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English Language Bookstores in Amsterdam

 

Amsterdam has a number of bookstores selling English language books. Both US and UK published books are well represented - however you will pay a local premium over the usual dollar or pound cover price. The Dutch book market is strictly regulated and prices tend to be quite high.

There are a number of bookshops located around the Spui square area - a weekly book market is also held there every Friday.

Large Bookshops in Amsterdam:

The American Book Center (ABC) - ABC is an Amsterdam institution, having been set up as a bargain bookstore in 1972 by two Americans. For years it was located on the Kalverstraat shopping street - however since 2006 it has made its home on the picturesque Spui square. Still a fiercely independent, family-run business, the current store is spread over 3 floors with a huge selection of American and British titles. It claims to be the best stocked English language bookstore in continental Europe.

abc bookstore amsterdam

The ground floor houses sections on art & design, fashion, music, photography, sport plus magazines. Check out the tree trunk on display which goes up through the ceiling to the first floor. Head upstairs past the Bookwall - a large curved floor to ceiling shelf space filled with books - here you will find the travel section.

The first floor has a comprehensive selection of sci-fi and fantasy books plus a children's corner. The second floor covers history, politics, business and science. The White Room at the front has an excellent section on health, psychology and spirituality books. ABC has an Espresso Book Machine which allows you to print out your own self-published book.

You will find the staff at ABC to be enthusiastic and knowledgeable. ABC gives a 10% discount to students, teachers and over 65s. Over 55s get the discount on Mondays only. Anyone else can buy a yearly ABC card for €7 which also gives you the 10% discount.

Regular social events such as book readings and open-mike nights are held - often round the corner at the satellite ABC treehouse on Voetboogstraat.

ABC bookstore (abc.nl) at Spui 12, Amsterdam (T: +31(0)20 625 5537)
Open daily: Mon (1200-2000), Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat (1000-2000), Thurs (1000-2100), Sun (1100-1830).

ABC also has a second book store location at Lange Poten 23 in The Hague.

Waterstones Amsterdam - The British bookseller has been present in Amsterdam since 1998. It has a large store covering 4 floors with an excellent selection of titles from the UK. It is located on the corner of Spui and the main shopping street Kalverstraat - quite near ABC - in a listed building designed by prominent Dutch architect Hendrik Berlage.

waterstones amsterdam

The ground floor covers fiction, current best sellers and English newspapers; on the first floor you will find a small range of British food, games, cards and magazines; the second floor has a decent travel section (plenty of books on Amsterdam and Netherlands) whilst the third floor includes business, self-help, biography plus guides for learning Dutch, English and other languages. The friendly staff can help with any requests.

There are comfy seats on the top 2 floors to sit and browse - something which the ABC perhaps lacks. There is a nice view over Kalverstraat from the window on the 3rd floor.

UK visitors may find the prices a little steep, however Waterstones does have regular offers such as '3 for 2' or 'buy 1 get 1 half price'.

Waterstones Amsterdam (waterstones.com) at 152 Kalverstraat (T: +31(0)20 638 3821)
Open daily: Mon (1000-1830), Tue/Wed/Fri (0930-1830), Thurs (0930-2100), Sat (1000-1830), Sun (1100-1830).

Scheltema - This massive Dutch bookstore originates back to 1853 and is located on Koningsplein opposite the end of flower market and not that far from ABC or Waterstones.

Whilst catering to the local Dutch market, you will find many titles in the English language - including fiction on the ground floor. Up on the first floor is a well stocked travel section and some great books on design, architecture and photography. The first floor also includes a branch of Bagels & Beans, a very nice café - and something not found in the other large Amsterdam bookstores.

scheltema amsterdam

The second floor houses the children's section, the third floor has a wide range of non-fiction including economics and management, psychology and history. The top 2 floors have discounted and second-hand books.

Scheltema hosts regular events such as book readings and signings. We once remember seeing Michael Palin in store promoting one of his travel books.

Being Dutch they do shut promptly at 6pm except for Thursday late night shopping.

Scheltema (scheltema.nl) at Koningsplein 20, Amsterdam (T: +31(0)20 523 1411)
Open daily: Mon (1100-1800), Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat (1000-1800), Thurs (1000-2100), Sun (1200-1800).

Smaller English Bookshops in Amsterdam:

The English Bookshop - This cosy small shop in the Jordaan area sells an interesting range of new and second-hand English books. Located on the Lauriergracht (off Prinsengracht) not far from either Leidseplein or Westermarkt.

Its speciality is children's books plus titles on pregnancy and parenting. The basement has comfy sofas with a small café serving coffee, scones and high tea. The staff are friendly and helpful.

Regular events are held such as writing workshops, quiz nights and a monthly bookclub.

The English Bookshop (englishbookshop.nl) at Lauriergracht 71 (T: +31(0)20 626 4230)
Open Tue - Sat 1100-1800.

Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum - This shop is over the road from ABC and specialises in selling a large range of international newspapers and magazines.

athenaeum nieuwscentrum amsterdam

Athenaeum's book store next door sells some English titles.

Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum (athenaeum.nl) at Spui 14-16 (T: +31(0)20 514 1470)
Open daily: Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat (0800-2000), Thurs (0800-2100), Sun (1000-1800).

New English Bookstore - A small cut-price English book outlet on Kalverstraat very near Muntplein.

new english bookstore amsterdam

They have a reasonable range of books including travel guides, fiction and non-fiction - you can often find some good bargains in here.

New English Bookstore at Kalverstraat 223 (T: +31(0)20 624 9789)
Open daily: Mon/Tue/Wed (1000-1800), Thurs (1000-2100), Fri/Sat (1000-1900), Sun (1030-1900).

Frontier Bookshop - An interesting shop in the Jordaan which sells books (Dutch and English) on alternative health, new age, UFOs, crop circles etc.

frontier bookshop amsterdam

It also sells a range of vitamins and natural health remedies.

Frontier Bookshop (frontierworld.nl) at Leliegracht 42 (T: +31(0)20 330 9151)
Open daily: Mon-Sat (1100-1800), Sun (1200-1800).

Pied A Terre - This is a large specialist travel book shop with an extensive range of travel guides, walking and cycling guides, maps and globes. The inhouse Café Métropole serves drinks and snacks. Located on Overtoom, a short walk from Leidseplein.

Pied A Terre at Overtoom 135-137 (T: +31(0)20 627 4455)
Open: Mon (1300-1800), Tue/Wed/Fri (1000-1800), Thurs (1000-2100), Sat (1000-1700).

Book Exchange - Amsterdam's largest second-hand English book store operating since 1978 located just east of the city centre on the Kloveniersburgwal canal. This independent store has non-fiction books downstairs, fiction upstairs plus a basement with fantasy, psychology and politics.

Book Exchange (bookexchange.nl) at Kloveniersburgwal 58 (T: +31(0)20 626 6266)
Open: Mon-Sat (1000-1800), Sun (1130-1600).