According to World Cities Culture Forum 2014 studies, Buenos Aires is the number-one city with most bookshops per habitant. So if you’re learning Spanish, you’re a Spanish expert and/or you just love reading, and you happen to be in Buenos Aires… well, you’re just in the right place to be.
According to the quoted study, Buenos Aires has 25 bookshops every 100.000 habitants, followed by Hong Kong with 22; Madrid with 16 and Shanghai with 15.
The truth, beyond numbers and statistics, is that among Buenos Aires bookshops are a couple of jewels you can’t miss: from a former, magnificient theatre in Recoleta to a small hole in San Telmo, here is my top 7 bookshops in Buenos Aires:
1- El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Recoleta.
Well, this was the most obvious option: The Ateneo Grand Splendid has become one of Buenos Aires musts. Although not that interesting in terms of the books offered (it has a very commercial catalog), it’s definitely worth a visit. It’s housed where Ateneo’s old theatre used to be, keeping the main structure, and it’s considered one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world.
It’s placed in 1860, Santa Fe Ave., Recoleta.
2- Eterna Cadencia, Palermo.
This charming bookshop is the perfect place to get lost in. Full of ladders to climb and corners to explore, Eterna Cadencia has a unique touch of coziness that booklovers won’t be able to resist. During the daytime you can enjoy a variety of coffees and sweet treats offered at their Café. The amazing thing about it? It has a high glass ceiling, perfect for reading! It is located in 5574, Honduras st., Palermo.
3- La libre, San Telmo.
This small yet interesting bookshop is a place to be proud of. Located in the heart of San Telmo, La Libre gathers the best of Buenos Aires independent literature in one spot. It was founded by a group of young and talented writers, poets and artists in order to have a place in our city, not only to sell good books, but to spread a literature independent movement. Find La Libre art and books at 646, Bolívar st., San Telmo.
4- Libros del Pasaje, Palermo.
This bookshop combines every right thing on Earth: coffee, music and, of course, good literature. It’s the perfect place for those who enjoy staying as long as they can in comfy places. At Libros del Pasaje you can have a cup of tea or coffee at its courtyard café, surrounded by books and natural light, while listening to some music. There are ladders to explore the shelves, an excellent art collection near the balcony and some English literature. There’s also free wi-fi. It’s placed in 1765, Thames st., Palermo.
5- Sbs, Palermo, city centre, others.
If you’re looking for learning material to practice your Spanish or to teach your own language to Argentineans, this might be your best shot. The truth is Argentina doesn’t have such a wide offer in Spanish learning material, as it’s concentrated in Spain and we don’t import most of it (which makes sense, considering the different Spanish variations make Spanish material unsuitable in most cases). But if you have a chance, this is it. Here, you can also find some -mostly classic- literature in foreign languages.
This bookshop chain has branches in 1747, Cnel Díaz Ave. (Palermo) and in 1875, Pasaje Discépolo (city centre), among others.
6- Walrus Books, San Telmo.
This is a tiny and beautiful bookstore that offers great books in English, new and used, for a good price. It’s ideal for expats and for avid readers, who happen to be in the middle of their trip with no books left to read. And don’t worry: booksellers speak English here!
Walrus is located at 617, Estados Unidos st., San Telmo.
7- Librería Hernández, city centre.
It might not be the most interesting option for travellers, but it’s my personal favourite for one single reason: it has a great offer of fiction, specially by Argentinean and Latin American writers. It works with a wide range of publishing houses, from the biggest to some of the most independent, as long as quality is assured. Besides, booksellers here are some of the most knowledgeable.
Hernández has two brunches, one in front of the other, but the biggest is in 1436, Corrientes Ave., city centre. This location implies an extra engaging feature, as you can find it in the middle of Corrientes’ Avenue bookshops route…
Bonus track: Corrientes’ Avenue bookshops route, city centre.
If you are a rarity lover, or you’re looking for books at bargain rates, or if you have to find a list of very different books, then Corrientes Ave. is the perfect place for you. All across Corrientes Ave., from the Obelisco to a few blocks beyond Callao Ave., there are plenty of bookshops. Not only typical, good shops such as my number 7, but also strange stores selling all kinds of new and used books as well as movies, magazines, comics and old newspapers. I could recommend you a lot of these bookshops, but why don’t you better make your own tour?