The Guinness Book of World Records recognises Livraria Bertrand as the World’s oldest operating bookstore. The Lisbon based flagship store opened in 1732, and now has a network of 52 other shops across Portugal. The original store’s name is translated to Bookstore Bertrand – it shouts, ‘this is what we sell, and this is the owner’s name’. Simple. And bookstores followed a similar naming style for hundreds of years.
Nowadays though, bookstores have quirky, cool or clever names, like Turn the Page, A Novel Idea or the Happy Endings Bookstore (actually I made that up, but it’s a great name for a romance bookshop).
In Australia, some of our favourites are the Melbourne book chain, Readings (a name that tells you like it is), and Better Read than Dead in Newtown, which is not only a cool name but very true. In Crow’s Nest there’s one of my personal favourite names, The Constant Reader (sums me up). And my local in Bondi, with its name harking back to Parisian literary salons, an energy it certainly maintains tucked away by Sydney’s most iconic beach – Gertrude & Alice.
Further afield are bookstores with catchy names, such as Second Story Books in Washington DC, which started on the second floor of the building it’s in to now being one of the largest used and rare bookstores in the world, and another US store in a basement, called Subtext Books.
Of course, great kids’ bookshops are to be expected in the USA. Alaska’s biggest independent bookstore is the aptly named Title Wave Books (love this name!). Books of Wonder is New York City’s oldest children’s bookstore, and a wild haven of new, used and collectible kids’ books that definitely inspires what the name suggests – wonder. And Storytelling Lab provides more than just books… there are writing classes for kids as well. While back home in Oz, The Younger Sun in Melbourne is a great name for this wonderful little companion store to the Sun bookshop.
Do you know of a bookshop with a catchy, cool or quirky name? Let us know what your favourite stores are called.