About The Guide

Hello! We are Sonja and Ivan. And this is our Bookstore Guide - an amateur guide to book shopping throughout Europe. We hope this Guide will help you find the book(stores) you are looking for.

New Year's Resolutions

As 2008 is nearing its end, we've decided to say goodbye to it with this last post that bears the number 8 in its name. The year 2008, as the blog's first full year, has been quite good for Bookstore Guide - the number of bookstores in our database is growing constantly (although the pace has slowed down a bit), we have introduced some new features such as the Reports section, Top 5s, and added maps to the posts. Most importantly, the number of visitors is growing as well, and along with the emails we receive, it gives us a feeling that Bookstore Guide has actually managed to help or inspire some of you, which is what's keeping us going and motivated.

That brings us to the title of this post - New Year's Resolutions. Of course, we would like to make Bookstore Guide even better in the next year and we have several ideas how to achieve this goal. There are still many cities which we lack and we would like to fill most of these gaps, so once again, don't hesitate with your recommendations. We're also planning to widen the scope of interest of our blog a bit, by adding a new section which would be focused on more general book-related issues and we hope to get some feedback from your side on the discussed issues as well. So stick with us in 2009, we'll do our best to keep you coming back.

As for now, we would like you to send us any book-related resolutions for 2009, to inspire all of our readers... Just add a comment or email them HERE.

Livraria Bertrand, Lisbon

bertrand livrerios logo

Lisbon, Portugal

Recommended by
Pedro Caetano Dias

Pedro said: "The Bertrand Bookshop ("livraria", in Portuguese) was founded in 1732. It was destroyed after the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and moved to its present-day premises on Rua Garrett, in the historical part of Lisbon, in 1773, thus pre-dating the Paris Galignani for almost 30 years. Bertrand is nowadays a nationwide book-chain, but the original bookshop is still on that same street, with beautiful wood-paneled walls and a wide assortment of all types of books, well worth a visit."

This bookstore, located at Rua Garrett 73-75, is the pioneer of the chain that presently spreads all over Portugal. It is a true part of the history of Lisbon, the original bookstore hasn't changed its location since 1773 but its original history dates back to 1732. Livraria Bertrand stands out for one more reason - it is the only bookstore in our Guide which has been destroyed by an earthquake. To find out more about its incredible history, follow the link to the Additional Reader's Picks to our Top 5: Oldest bookstores on the Continent post, which now includes a special update thanks to Pedro, as Livraria Bertrand has been additionally awarded the number one position.

As for the present situation, the original bookstore still maintains many of its distinctive features and values its tradition very highly, although its name currently refers to a whole chain of bookstores. Bertrand has undergone massive expansion and modernization and it has been turned into the biggest chain of bookstores in Portugal. At the moment, the company is running 56 bookstores all over Portugal, which are integrated within one internal informational system, they cooperate closely and exchange information and books to satisfy the needs of their customers.

When it comes to English books, the offer at Bertrand's is more than satisfying, especially if you wish to discover the history and culture of Portugal, or you plan to travel around a bit, a stop at this bookstore will definitely help you get started. Maps, travel guides and lots of English translations of the most important names of Portuguese literature should satisfy your . If your knowledge of Portuguese isn't where it should be, you will also appreciate the offer of English magazines. The English section of Bertrand's is also known for an up-to-date offer of contemporary fiction, and a nice selection of art books.

livraria bertrandLivraria Bertrand Chiado
Rua Garrett, 73/75
1200-203 Lisbonlivraria bertrand chiado


Phone and Email:

Working Hours:
Mon-Fri 9-20
Sat 9-22
Sun 14-18

Back to the list of bookstores in Lisbon

Off the Shelf, Geneva

Off the Shelf Geneva logo
Where? Geneva, Switzerland

Recommended by
Alex Bielmann

Alex said: "I want to recommend you a bookshop in Geneva. Its name is Off the Shelf and its location is interesting (above a German bookshop, next to a French one - it's like a Drei Länder Punkt - a border with three countries) near the University. The prices are real friendly to your pocket. Also important to know that prices are in Swiss francs (1CHF ~ 0.65 EUR)."

Switzerland, being a multilingual country, has an abundant offer of bookstores whose stock consists of German, French and Italian books. When it comes to English books, on the other hand, many of the Swiss bookstores do have a small selection of English titles but, for some reason, purely English bookstores are not that easy to find. Therefore, Off the Shelf is the real precious stone in Switzerland.

Off the Shelf is a small but very cozy bookstore with a very friendly service - the staff is known to often engage in conversation with the customers, discussing books and new releases. With a nice stock, Off the Shelf also has a cute children's corner i.e. kids room where, besides reading, children can spend the time playing, while their parents are browsing for their favorite books. They also offer a delivery service and are willing to track down that one copy of an out-of-print book that you desperately need. Furthermore, they have a special cooperation with the University of Geneva and, beside stocking textbooks students might need, they also provide students with a special card where, by purchasing a book, they collect points which they can later on use as a gift token. What's more, the bookstore is located only a few hundred meters from the university.

Located in the center of Geneva, in the Plainpalais area, Off the Shelf, an all-English language bookstore stocks books in all genres - both fiction and non-fiction, children's books, English language teaching materials and simplified readers, as well as American and Swiss magazines. Thanks to its carefully picked stock, the bookstore has earned a reputation of the best source of English books in Geneva. Interesting readings and book launches also take place at Off the Shelf, you can check out a list of the previous ones and the announced ones on their website.

Off the Shelf bookstore GenevaOff the Shelf
15 bvd Georges Favon
1204 GenevaOff the shelf Geneva


Phone and Email:
(+41 22) 311 1090

Working Hours:
Tue-Fri 9-18:30
Sat 10-17

Back to the list of bookstores in Geneva

Additional Reader's Picks

Reader's reactions to our Top 5: Oldest Bookstores on the Continent and their additional recommendations for this category:

Livraria Bertrand, Lisbon (1732/1773)

livraria bertrand lisboaWe are glad that this edition of our Top 5 has provoked some reactions and feedback, and as you can see their effect is quite significant - we are introducing a new number one, subtitled Reader's pick. As our reader Pedro wrote: "I was looking at your Top 5 of the oldest bookshop on the Continent, though, and I'd like to suggest a new #1 for the list: Livraria Bertrand, in Lisbon, Portugal. The Bertrand Bookshop ("livraria", in Portuguese) was founded in 1732. It was destroyed after the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and moved to its present-day premises on Rua Garrett, in the historical part of Lisbon, in 1773, thus pre-dating the Paris Galignani for almost 30 years."

Livraria Bertrand, or the Bertrand Bookshop if you prefer, bears the name of its French founder Pierre Bertrand and it opened its doors for the first time in 1732 in the Portuguese capital Lisbon. This bookstore was completely destroyed on the 1st of November 1755 by the Great Lisbon Earthquake. During the early 18th century, Lisbon was still one of the largest European cities lisbon earthquake 1755(with an estimated population of 200-250 thousand), and the city has enjoyed wealth and prosperity during the past few centuries due to its position as a very important trading center and also due to Portuguese colonial ambitions. The catastrophic effects of the earthquake include death toll estimates ranging from 10 to 100 thousand victims (30-40 thousand according to most historians) and 85% of the buildings in the city destroyed, some of them by the subsequent fires which lasted for five long days. Many philosophers of the Enlightenment era reflected on this event, for example Voltaire mentions it in his famous 1759 novel Candide.

However, Lisbon has been restored and the city got back on its feet, just as the Livraria Bertrand, which reopened in 1773 at a new location in Chiado in Rua Garret 73-75 and has refused to move since. During its long history, it has acquired the status of the focal point of Lisbon's intellectual and literary discussions and even political intrigue. The entire Chiado disctrict plays a very important part in the cultural and political history of the city. Another disaster struck on the lisbon fire 198825th of August 1988, when a huge fire broke out in Chiado, spreading to rua Garrett as well and destroying 18 houses and killing two people, but Livraria Bertrand has manged to resist the forces of nature once again. Today, it still stands as a unique relic of the famous past of Lisbon, while fully adapting to the requirements of the modern bookselling business.

Check out our other Top5s:

Top 5: Travel Bookstores

Top 5: Oldest Bookstores on the Continent
(with an Additional Reader's Pick)

Top 5: Central Europe

Top 5: Impressive Appearance

Back to the list of all Top5 categories