The [Travel] Book Thing

These days it seems like chain stores run the world. I think that’s why I love Paris so much (for the most part big chains stay on the periphery of the city), and places like Austin or Charlottesville that really allow small, independent businesses to survive and thrive. But the good news is that when I do find a great store, it’s that much greater because it’s not like everywhere else.
When it comes to bookstores, BUECHERBOGEN in Berlin (where I bought the “Colors of Berlin” that I posted yesterday) is one of those places that makes me want to drool (in the best of ways). I’m like a kid in a candy store, as I seriously need to stop by self from touching every book in sight. First of all the location is great – right under the Savigny Platz S-Bahn station, so you feel the vibrations of the trains above. And they have a very extensive collection (and many discounted prices…although with the exchange rate right now, probably not so much for us Americans) of art, architecture and design titles. I’m sure there’s tons more, but that’s where my mind goes. . .
Another favorite bookstore is ARTAZART Design Bookstore along Canal St. Martin (where Amelie skips stones) in Paris. Chocked full of creative titles in graphic design and photography, this bookstore is truly a designer’s paradise. While many of the books are published in the US, having them all in one place makes a huge difference. In the front part of the store there is also a great gallery worth checking out.

In Baltimore I finally checked out the BOOK THING over the weekend. It’s complete hit or miss kind of place, but it’s the element of chance and luck that makes it exciting. Every book in the place is free, with the suggested donation of “a smile.” I picked up a really great Illustrated Atlas of the World, old travel guides and a French book to beef up my skills. A totally great place for art students in need of something to reinvent or anyone looking for back issues of National Geographic.

Where are the other great bookstores of the world? ? ? I just ordered my copy of Mundane Journeys (a post not long ago) from Get Lost – a bookstore that sounds heavenly to me, devoted to travel books and maps in San Francisco (they also have weekly slide shows!). Strand Bookstore in New York is another one that I’ve been told to check out.

And for some great travel reads (all new to me), check out some suggestions from Jennifer Hill of Places I Have Never Been (and, btw, I just got her calendar – with the same name – and love it!).


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