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A Guide to Bookstores in Amsterdam

Looking for the best Amsterdam bookshops? Don’t miss these 10 amazing bookstores in Amsterdam!

Amsterdam is a city whose culture, art and history draws many tourists each year. But there are also a huge number of bookstores in Amsterdam that are worth exploring.

Since the vast majority of the Amsterdam population are fluent in English, at least, everyone I encountered was, pretty much every single bookshop sold both Dutch and English books.

As such, if you find yourself looking for an English bookstore, Amsterdam will give you no shortage of them.

A huge number of Amsterdam bookshops are found in the central canal area, which makes for a very picturesque bookish wander.

Here’s my guide to book shopping in Amsterdam featuring the best Amsterdam bookshops. For Amsterdam book markets and book swaps check out my Book Lovers’s Guide to Amsterdam (coming soon!).

11 Best Amsterdam Bookshops to Visit

Used English Books (The Book Exchange Amsterdam)

User English Books, or The Book Exchange, is my favourite Amsterdam bookstore. There are three floors of second hand books in English relating to every genre. The owner is always sat in the window, looking out onto the street before him and I can’t help but be jealous of him!

Downstairs, there is a huge cellar with row upon row of bookshelves specialising in sci-fi and fantasy literature. Some of these are very old, but others are more recent titles so there’s a mix of things from authors such as Brandon Sanderson, George R R Martin and Marissa Meyer to name a few.

However, my favourite room was upstairs. I followed a sign reading “upstairs: thousands of paperbacks” (is there anything more appealing?) and found myself in a room with all four walls lined with books from floor to ceiling. There are more shelves in the middle too!

This room contains the general fiction and classics ordered from A to Z. Just above my head, there was a note on each shelf stating that there were duplicates on the layers above so there are plenty of copies of each second hand book in here.

If you’re a book lover, make sure to squeeze a visit to The Book Exchange onto your Amsterdam itinerary as it’s the best place to shop for second hand books. Amsterdam has a few other places to shop for second hand English books, but this bookstore has the largest selection.

Speciality: Second hand English books
Address: Kloveniersburgwal 58, 1012 CX Amsterdam
Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm Monday to Saturday; 11:30am – 4pm Sunday

Henk Comics

Henk can be found in Amsterdam’s Chinatown and whilst it looks quite small from the outside, it’s actually a very large store.

It specialises in manga and comic books both new and second hand and is the place to go for fans of graphic novels. There are figurines relating to graphic novel characters, new books in English and Japanese and other memorabilia.

There is a second room adjoining the first which has an enormous and very impressive stock of funko pops.

They relate to a number of different TV series and film franchises and come in all different sizes. I’ve never seen funko pops quite so large! I was amazed at the selection.

What’s more, for fans of K-Pop (Korean Pop Music), there are plenty of posters, stickers, clothing and other merchandise relating to BTS and other popular boy bands.

Speciality: Comic books, manga, funko pops, kpop interest
Address: Zeedijk 101, 1012 BG Amsterdam
Opening Hours: 11am – 7pm every day (12pm – 6pm Sunday)

American Book Centre

The American Book Centre, or ABC Bookstore, is an absolutely enormous store stocking a very comprehensive selection of English language books.

Whilst it looks like it may be a chain, it’s actually an independent, family-owned Amsterdam bookstore and has been since 1972.

As you make your way through the store, you’ll see a large staircase leading up to the rest of the store. It’s a lovely, large rounded staircase that is entirely lined with books.

These are English best-sellers and lots bear a ticker marking them as an “ABC favourite” as they are particularly recommended by staff.

If you want to stay awhile, you’ll find armchairs and sofas dotted around the store. If you’re in need of refreshments, there’s also a very small cafe.

It’s quiet, you’re surrounded by books and there’s coffee and hot chocolate. This section is where you’ll find the cookbooks, which is very apt.

What amazed me was they had a self-publishing section where you’ll find Betty the Bookmaking Machine. It’s possible to get your own books published here for very reasonable prices!

If you’ve written a novel and want to see what it would look like as a paperback, you can have some copies printed here, or even just the one copy as a keepsake. I’ve never seen this in a bookshop before and it’s such a lovely idea.

English paperbacks cost between €11 and 13 on average, which seems to be the norm for English books in Europe. There are some second hand English books on offer here too.

As well as books, there’s a huge selection of English magazines on the ground floor and a sofa for you to browse them on. You can play blind date with a book here and pick up a book wrapped in brown paper to surprise you at home.

There is a wide range of bookish gifts which even featured bookish tote bags from Obvious State, my favourite book accessories brand.

Throughout the store, there is soft jazz playing, you get their literary magazine free with every purchase and it’s even dog-friendly! But beware… once you enter you may not be seen again for a few hours.

Speciality: New English books, all genres
Address: Spui 12, 1012 XA Amsterdam
Opening Hours: 12-8pm Monday; 10am-8pm Tuesday to Saturday; 11am-6:30pm Sunday

Athenaeum Boekhandel

Athenaeum Bookshop is one of Holland’s largest independent bookstores. It’s just across the road from the American Book Centre but is also worth a visit if you’ve got time.

The outside of the store is beautiful with huge curved glass windows thanks to its position on the corner of the street. The interior shop layout is interesting with lots of different staircases taking you to different levels and mezzanines all within the same space.

The English language section is towards the back of the store and contains a well-curated selection of the best of English new releases. Upstairs there’s also a big section on French literature with both classics and more modern releases.

On the bottom level, also accessible from the street, there is a large section stocking magazines and periodicals in Dutch, English and other languages in a variety of genres. They even have some back issues so if you missed something you might just find it here!

Speciality: New English and Dutch books, periodicals
Address: Spui 14-16, 1012 XA Amsterdam
Opening Hours: 10am-7pm Monday to Saturday; 11am-6pm Sunday

New English Bookstore

If you want to buy new English books in Amsterdam at half the price of those sold in the other large bookshops mentioned on this list, then pay a visit to the New English Bookstore.

There weren’t too many of the very latest releases but there were lots of popular titles from children’s to young adult to general fiction and classics. There’s plenty of non-fiction too with self-help books, cookery books, history books and more.

It’s a large bookshop stocking every genre so you’re bound to find something you like in here. There’s not much of an order going on so you’ll have to spend some time studying these shelves to see if anything you want is there.

Given that English paperbacks in Europe can cost double what they cost in the UK, this is a great place to find bargain prices on new English books.

Speciality: New English books
Address: Kalverstraat 223, 1012 XC Amsterdam
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 6pm Monday; 10am – 6pm Tuesday, Wednesday; 10am – 7pm Thursday to Saturday; 12pm – 5pm Sunday

Pantheon Boekhandel

Pantheon Boekhandel is located right in the centre of Amsterdam, very close to the Rembrandt House Museum. It’s a large, bright and airy bookshop with high ceilings and tall windows.

On the shelves, you’ll find a wide range of titles: fiction and new releases, children’s books, travel books, non-fiction, cookbooks and more. The books are mostly in the Dutch language, but there’s a great selection of books in English too.

Up on the first floor on the mezzanine level is a travel bookshop called Boekholt A la Carte which has an extensive selection of travel guides and maps for countries all over the world. If you’re just stopping by in Amsterdam on your way to other European destinations, this is a great place to find some reading on where to go next.

If for some reason you can’t find what you’re looking for here, they can order it in for you – usually to pick up the very next day.

Speciality: New books in Dutch and English
Address: Sint Antoniesbreestraat 134, 1011 HB Amsterdam
Opening Hours: Monday 11am-6pm; Tuesday-Friday 9am-6pm; Saturday 10am-6pm; Sunday 12-5pm.

Waterstones Amsterdam

Waterstones in Amsterdam will hold more appeal to non-British visitors as it’s much the same as the other beautiful Waterstones stores we have in the UK.

It’s located in a beautiful building designed by renowned Dutch architect H.P. Berlage and is found on the corner of Amsterdam’s main shopping street.

This branch boasts four floors of new books in every genre imaginable, as well as gifts, stationery and games. There was also a great selection of books set in Holland and about living and working in Holland.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were exclusive covers designed for Waterstones Amsterdam. I know this is common in England but it was nice to see that this extends beyond the British branches!

All in all, this is a lovely store with friendly staff and a great place to shop for English language books as soon as they come out. English paperbacks here cost much the same as they do across Amsterdam and are around €12/13 each.

Speciality: New English books, gifts, stationery
Address: Kalverstraat 152, 1012 XE Amsterdam
Opening Hours: 10am-6:30pm Monday; 9:30am-6:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday; 9:30am-9pm Thursday; 9:30am-7pm Friday; 10am-7pm Saturday; 11am-6:30pm Sunday

Happy Bookieman Amsterdam

Happy Bookieman, Amsterdam

Oh gosh, where do I begin with Steve the Happy Bookieman?

I wandered along to Steve’s “bookshop”, not remembering where I’d picked up this recommendation or anything about it. I arrived at the correct number and tried the door but it appeared to be shut. I tried for a minute or so before Steve came to the door and welcomed me inside.

The inside is dark and messy with books in large piles upon the floor and overflowing off the shelves. There are an assortment of random trinkets and a painting of the religious man on the wall. Steve claims this is his grandfather. He’s also smoking a joint and these two facts may or may not be related.

There’s a selection of random English and Dutch books in random genres on these shelves and although they are vaguely ordered by genre, it does feel like a random assortment of books.

It was only when I rounded the corner ten minutes later and saw a sofa and a stove that I realised I was standing in Steve’s home!

Steve then tells me that he needs to get to the bank so my visit is cut short, which is just as well probably because I was feeling a little embarrassed at not realising this was a section of his own home.

Since I had no cash with me, Steve kindly gave me a copy of Paulo Coelho’s “The Devil and Miss Prym” that I had my eye on. Steve is just the best!

Books cost around €1.50 here and, in the summer months, you can enjoy your read on a small table outside and have a nice chat with Steve about anything and everything!

NB. In case it wasn’t clear already, this is not a traditional bookshop but Steve is kind enough to open his home to book lovers and for conversation and bookish delights.

On the same road as the Happy Bookieman is a luxury literary hotel with a beautiful library bar. Check out my Ambassade Hotel review for more info!

Speciality: Used books in English and Dutch
Address: Herengracht 267A, 1016 BJ Amsterdam
Opening Hours: n/a

Mendo Bookshop Amsterdam


Mendo is one of the most aesthetically pleasing spaces I have ever been in. The store is quite small and the books are spread out but the store design is stunning and sleek. The store is dark with cool music playing softly and shiny black surfaces everywhere.

There are books in English and Dutch on art, photography, fashion, architecture and more. You’ll even find cookbooks on the very millennial subject of avocados and one by P-Diddy.

Their collection is made up of some of the most aesthetic coffee table books and I want them all for my living room. There were also some more thought-provoking titles such as one on North Korean propaganda.

It’s well worth a visit for art and photography lovers!

Speciality: Art, photography, design, cookbooks
Address: Berenstraat 11, 1016 GG Amsterdam, Netherlands
Opening Hours: 11am-6pm every day (12-5pm Sunday)

Architectura & Natura Amsterdam Book Store

Architectura & Natura

Architecture & Natura is a very niche bookshop that doubles up as its own publishing house. They stock titles relating to architecture, landscape and natural history in a variety of languages.

The majority of the books seemed to be in English but there are some doted around originating from other parts of the world.

It’s an incredibly niche bookstore but there are some fascinating books in here. Whilst some relate to bird watching, others relate to brutalism and I was and I was tempted by a copy of In Praise of Shadows by Tanizaki, which is an essay on aesthetics.

The beautiful shop layout, with a mezzanine level also filled with books, may tempt you in but you might just find something unexpected in here that you take with you as you leave.

Speciality: Architecture, landscape architecture and natural history
Address: Leliegracht 22-H, 1015 DG Amsterdam
Opening Hours: 12-5pm Monday, Sunday; 10:30-6:30pm Tuesday to Friday

Scheltema Bookshop Amsterdam


Scheltema is an enormous bookshop with over five floors of books and occupying 3200 square metres of space. It dates all the way back to 1853 and is one of the biggest bookshops in Europe!

You’ll find every genre under the sun here and I would be very surprised if you came in here and they told you they didn’t have what you wanted in stock.

There’s an entire floor dedicated to English books and the selection here is amazing. Not only do they have all the latest releases and prize winners but they also have several different editions of many of their titles.

If you’re shopping for classics you will be spoiled for choice whether you want the Penguin clothbounds, the modern classics; hardbacks, paperbacks, or something else entirely. English paperbacks will set you back around €11-20 and hardbacks are around €25.

The store has a beautiful layout as well with lots of colourful and inviting armchairs for you to nestle down in with a new read. If you want a hot drink to keep you warm, there’s also a cafe where you can find a quiet spot.

If you’re shopping for foreign literature in Amsterdam then there’s also a good selection of French and German titles in the original language. These are around €20 each, even for paperbacks.

The top floor was my favourite floor as this is where the second hand books are kept. There is a huge selection on simple brown wooden shelves that are v aesthetically pleasing.

Some of the second hand titles on offer here are like-new and I even found a copy of the Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern which was only released a few months prior!

Speciality: New and second hand books in Dutch and English
Address: Rokin 9, 1012 KK Amsterdam
Opening Hours: 11am-7pm Sunday, Monday; 10am-7pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday; 10am-9pm Thursday

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If you liked this post, check out these:
The Fault in Our Stars in Amsterdam
3 Days in Amsterdam
Beautiful Bookshops in London
English Bookshops in Paris
Beautiful Bookshops in York
Bookshops in Obidos, Portugal

Bookshops in San Diego
Bookshops in Lausanne

Laura whatshotblog profile photo


Editor of What’s Hot?

Laura is an award-winning travel and book blogger based in the UK. She studied French literature at Oxford University and is now an IP lawyer at a top law firm in London. She was named UK Book Blogger of the Year in 2019 and loves to combine her passion for books and travel with literary travel.


Sunday 5th of February 2023

Good guide Laura! I live in Amsterdam for three years and haven't noticed most of the bookstores in your article. Thank you!