Where? Reykjavik, Iceland
Visited: July 2012
At first sight, the bookstore doesn't seem as big, as it's windows are stuffed with books, not allowing you a good glimpse inside. Once in, you will probably be amazed at how many books can fit in - although, mind you, the premises of the store are not small at all. The first room is occupied by, mostly, English and foreign language literature (other languages being Italian or French here and there) while the second, bigger one, carries Icelandic books (together with some Danish or other Scandinavian languages). These are then further sorted by categories, although you can find quite a few English books in these categories as well. So, as you see, the whole stock is not as neatly as organized as you'd expect (languages mingle, books lie on top of one another, are still stored in boxes - but you're free to browse) so you're very much likely to spend hours in the store. An interesting section, worth of a mention, is the Norse mythology section in which some books in Old Norse can be found. The owner, an elderly gentleman, sits behind the till minding his own business but is likely to help you out if you ask. As for the prices, the English books were within a very acceptable 2-6 EUR range.
Bókin's whole ambiance is also very interesting. Besides the books all sorts of mysterious items abide. So you'll find anything from old newspaper clippings that date even to pre-WW2, peculiar looking ceramic clowns, portraits of movie stars and all sorts of antique-looking objects which befit a store of such caliber.
Bókin was founded in Reykjavik in 1964 by Gudmundur Egil but throughout the years it changed many owners only to be bought by Gisli Ari Bragason in 1997, who has owned it ever since. Perhaps an interesting fact from Bókin's history is that it was Bobby Fischer's favorite bookstore ever since his 1972 victory in Iceland over Boris Spassky. Bókin is the place where he would spend hours, just sitting in the back of the store. It is also said that in the last years of his life, when Bobby became paranoid and refused to have his mail delivered to his home, he picked it up at no place other than the store. The last time Bobby Fischer visited Bókin was October 2005.
Phone and Email:
+354 - 552 1710
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