World’s Biggest Bookstores

Have you already started planning your summer vacation? Then here are some definite must-visit destinations if you are into books, which I guess you are since you’re reading a book blog ;-). You can read the original article by Emma Foulton here.

Are you one of those girls who loved Beauty and the Beast not for the romance, but for the library? Is the way to your heart paved with books? Then read on to discover the top 5 biggest bookstores around the world! And don’t forget to take along that extra, empty suitcase to fill it with new books!

1. Powell’s Bookstore (Portland, Oregon, USA)

This independent American bookstore chain has 4 stores in the state of Oregon, and their flagship location (1005 W Burnside St.) in Portland holds over one million books. It’s the largest “used and new bookstore in the world, occupying an entire city block.” They’ve divided the story into over 3500 different sections, host meets & greets, workshops and readings with writers, artists and thinkers every month and they even have a Rare Book Room filled with first editions and collectible volumes


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2. Barnes & Noble (Union Square, New York City, USA)

Barnes & Noble is not only the internet’s largest bookstore, their flagship location in Union Square, New York City is also the second biggest (physical) bookstore in the world. You can spend entire days in the bookshop, browsing the bookshelves, admiring the different sections, discovering the changing themes, and stopping for a coffee at the in-store coffee shop (located on the third floor). They also organise lots and lots of events: book signings, readings, workshops, lectures, multi-author events, special events per genre or target audience, …

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3. Cook & Book (Brussels, Belgium)

Wow, I did not know the third biggest bookstore in the world was located in my own country, not so far from where I work even! I’m already planning my visit there, you should see it up on the blog by summertime. Anyway, this (mainly French and Dutch) bookstore sells so much more than just cookbooks, it’s divided into different sections: comic books, children’s literature, travel books, fine arts, music books and CDs,  gardening literature, novels, cookbooks (obviously) and also a selection of English literature.

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4. John K. King Used And Rare Books (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

The fourth biggest bookstore in the world is a little different from the others: it only stocks used and rare books. They also don’t have a computer system to keep stock. So if you are looking for an afternoon filled with browsing, this is the bookstore for you! Plus, the bookstore is housed in an enormous building that used to be a glove factory, which John K. King bought in 1983. Each floor has their own floor manager that can help you find what you need in their sections. If it’s rare books you want, you can find most of what they have to offer online here, but it’s always better to stop by the store and check it out physically.

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5. Waterstones Piccadilly (London, England)

This bookshop claims to be Europe’s largest bookstore, but since Belgium is also in Brussels, I guess they must be basing this on different claims than sheer size. But it still is, of course, a very big bookstore: 6 floors of books, with over 200.000 unique titles. In the fiction department, you’ll find crime, sci-fi, fantasy, graphic novels, poetry & drama and romance & erotica. Waterstones also boasts a big non-fiction section from biographies and travel writing via all kinds of informational books to adult colouring books and audiobooks! Their extensive and imaginative children’s section houses all the famous authors, characters & series but also a big number of less known books and even an entire learning section. And of course, let’s not forget the stationery & gifts corner where you can find the ideal gift for any book lover.

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Don’t know if I’ll make it to Oregon or Detroit, but I did see the Barnes & Noble in Union Square. I spent an entire week city tripping in New York City with a group of people, so unfortunately I didn’t have the time to go in, but I did see this impressive bookshop from the outside. The next time I make it to NYC, I’ll definitely reserve an afternoon to spend in there! I’ll just have to see about taking one of my other book-loving friends with me. The Cook&Book is on my schedule to visit this summer, and the next time I’m in London I will be stopping by Waterstones Piccadilly. Last time I went, I already dragged my mother into too many bookshops ;-).

How about you? Have you visited one or more of the top 5 of biggest bookstores in the world yet? How was it? I’d love to hear/read about it in the comments!

Happy reading,

Loes M.


  1. The Book Barn in Niantic, Connecticut (really numerous barns and buildings) has been steadily gathering books for the last 30 years, and now has over 500,000. Largest in New England, passed The Strand in NYC, and Barnes and Noble, too. I would say it is third or fourth in the world, at least.

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