If you’re a reader with a capital R, bookstores are your heaven. With shelves upon shelves of new books to check out, and often a cafe adjacent filled with coffee, tea and sweet treats, how could any bibliophile worth their weight in paperbacks not love spending a ton of time at their local indie bookshop? Of course, most of the bookstores we know of stock a wide variety of genres, authors, and age-groups to appeal to the widest range or readers possible. But did you know that there are certain shops around the world that have done away with the idea of mass appeal in favor of super niche stores that cater specifically to only one genre?
There are actually a number of special bookstores both in the U.S. and abroad that have taken this tactic and turned their shops into spaces that are dedicated to celebrating books that cover a specific subject or live in a specific genre. Are you a massive fan of romance, say, or crime fiction and have always wished that the single section in your local store could be expanded tenfold? Yeah, there’s a bookstore out there just waiting for you. Check out the 10 genre bookshops below and start planning your summer travels accordingly.
Lovers of all things romance need look no further than The Ripped Bodice in Culver City. The self-proclaimed “romantic bookstore” carries exclusively romance novels — the only one of its kind in the United States. And for extra cool factor: the shop is owned by sisters Bea and Leah Koch, who also stock their shelves with romance-themed gift items that support female-owned indie businesses. Falling in love with reading has never been more empowering.
Artazart bookstore in Paris is all about art and design. The shop carries a curated selection of books and magazines on graphic design, photography, and more. They also sell select “artsy” items like prints, Poloroid cameras, and, of course eco-conscious bags. And their appreciation for art doesn’t stop there: they host monthly exhibitions to introduce their patrons to new talents.
You can travel the world without ever leaving the stacks at New York City’s Idlewild bookshop. The store in Manhattan caters specifically to travel books — from guide books and phrase books to novels and memoirs that bring their setting alive. But what truly makes Idlewild special is their commitment to languages. They teach Spanish, French, Italian and German classes at both their Manhattan store and Brooklyn school. If you’re planning a to backpack through Europe and want to communicate with the locals in their native tongue, Idlewild’s got you covered.
You might not think that there is a big market for books about cars, but this Sydney-based bookstore will prove you wrong. Automoto Book Shop carries every single kind of automotive book you can think of, many of them old and rare catalogues, buyer’s guides and even DVD’s. If you or someone in your life is obsessed with classic cars and the automotive industry in general, this place is basically your idea of Heaven on Earth.
Milan’s La Libreria del Mare is exactly what its name would suggest: a library of the sea. All of their books cover something to do with marine life, from tomes about boats, yachts and ships to reads about fishing, sea-life and so much more. The shop is also covered with lots of boat photos, nautical maps and other scally-wag approved decor. Interestingly enough, Milan is actually a landlocked Italian city known for their incredible seafood…and, of course, their incredible sea-themed bookstore. Go figure.
Transreal Fiction in Scotland is the only specialist shop in the city that is dedicated entirely to selling science fiction and fantasy related books, along with a limited selection of other sci-fi merchandise. And what sets them apart from other sci-fi shops like them elsewhere is their commitment to stocking books not just by authors with British publishers — they actually have the biggest range of imported science fiction and fantasy titles in Scotland.
Berkeley’s Dark Delicacies is dedicated entirely to horror books…but just because I won’t be going there anytime soon doesn’t mean you can’t! If you’re a mega fan of all things frightening, this is definitely the shop for you. From classic scaries like Dracula to non-fiction about your favorite horror creatives (think Vincent Price and Boris Karloff) this shop will have you looking over your shoulder in every aisle — in a good way. The shop also sells horror DVDs, magazines, posters, t-shirts and other creepy cool items.
The Drama Book Shop in Manhattan has been a haunt of theater-industry professionals (like Lin-Manuel Miranda himself) and hopefuls alike since 1917. Filled to the brim with resources for all things acting, from biographies of famous performers to plays, screenplays, memoirs, how-to-guides and so much more. If you’ve ever wanted to see your name in lights — or just can’t get enough of the stage and screens both big and small — The Drama Bookshop has everything you could ever want to read.
If poetry is your thing, Boston’s Grolier Poetry Bookshop is the only place you’ll ever want to be. Since 1927 the store has helped spread the love of poetry both classic and modern, incredibly important for a genre that is often wrongly accused of being “boring” and “confusing.” With tons of readings and events for both children and adults, Grolier’s mission to cater to lovers of written and spoken word poetry makes it a favorite for all poets and the poetry obsessed — and those who are looking to give poetry a second chance after that less-than-stellar English 101 class in college.
Persephone Books in London doesn’t necessarily stick to just one genre but they have one very specific mission: to reprint neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-20th century (mostly) women writers. And they do so with some of the most coveted books around — most are printed with gray covers but colorful French flaps with matching bookmarks. They’ve currently published a total of 128 books (some readers have made it a mission to collect them all) and you can grab a book a month subscription box so you won’t miss a single one. Check out their website for The Persephone Box Set and their coveted Persephone notebook.