5 of the Biggest Book Shops in the World

Do you know where the largest book shops are in the world? Are you such a fan of books and reading that you’d like to plan a trip around the world on the holy grail of the biggest bookshops?

Related: 7 of the Most Interesting Themed Bookshops in the United States 

In this article, we have done the research for you on the world’s biggest book shops. All you need to do is decide in which order to see them and how much time you want to spend in each mega-shop.

In no particular order, meet the biggest bookshops in the world:

  1. Waterstones on Piccadilly London, UK
  2. Blackwell’s Oxford, UK
  3. Barnes & Nobles on 5th Ave. New York, NY
  4. Powell’s Books Portland, Oregon
  5. El Ateneo Grand Splendid Buenos Aires, Argentina

Waterstones on Piccadilly London, UK

Let’s start with a book shop in the country that is the home of the English language, England. Waterstones is a chain book shop, but this is its flagship store and also the largest book shop in England. Covering six floors, it has books organized according to the genre and ample seating space to browse through the books you take off the shelf. With service desks on every floor, you don’t need to go far to find a bookseller. It also has a stationery section and a coffee area for rest or work. 

Blackwell’s in Oxford, UK

As Oxford is home to one of the best universities in the world, it should come as no surprise that one of the world’s biggest book shops has a home in Oxford too. Though it has one floor that is underground covering 10,000 square feet, it is made up of four floors. Being in an academic setting, you can find many specialist academic books as well as all genres in the general interest sections. 

“Blackwells Oxford” by TheCreativePenn is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Though not the largest bookshop in England, it is the biggest academic and specialist book shop in the UK. It is also on this list as it’s one of the oldest book shops too, having first opened its doors at the same site in 1879. 

Barnes & Noble at 555 5th Ave. New York, NY

Moving across to the USA, another home of the English language, we find another of the biggest book shops in the world. The Barnes & Noble on 5th Avenue in New York City has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest in the world. It is also popular for its 2nd-floor Starbucks, which functions as a rest stop in the epic ‘hustle and bustle’ shopping area that is 5th Avenue. It’s on this list as it is the largest bookshop in the USA that sells new books, and it also sells eReaders, gifts, toys, and stationery. The booksellers are very happy to help you find whatever it is you need, as you’d expect from a well-known book shop in a famous shopping district. 

Powell’s Books Portland, Oregon

Powell’s is the largest bookshop in the US that sells new, old, and rare books. They accept thousands of second-hand books every day and have miles of shelving to house the books they have. It is so large that it even has a map printed for customers to navigate it easily. For an understanding of its size, consider that it covers one whole city block. Powell’s is the largest on this list as it is not just dedicated to new books. 

El Ateneo Grand Splendid Buenos Aires, Argentina

The biggest book shop on this list in the Southern Hemisphere is the El Ateneo Grand Splendid. Found in Buenos Aires, Argentina, it was once a theater and is often visited today for its architecture as well as for the books within it. For this visit, you might not find many books in English, if any at all, but you can find treasures in the gift and stationery sections. El Ateneo Grand Splendid may not be the biggest book shop in the world, but it is the most beautiful of all the biggest bookshops and most certainly deserving of a visit.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid
“El Ateneo Grand Splendid” by Nico Kaiser is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

There are times when a large book shop is a place you need to go to, either to find a special something or because you don’t really know what to read and need all options open to you. Sometimes, when traveling abroad, a book shop is a familiar haven, where you can just rest and watch others travel by. 

If you’re from a smaller city or town, your first visit to an enormous book shop will have you spending an entire day there as you are completely spoiled for choice. Perhaps you are a city-dweller and need the space of a larger bookshop. Either way, visiting five of the biggest book shops in the world will leave you with plenty of stories to tell, whether those are from the books you buy or the new friends you have made along the way.