In the age of kindles and computers, our love affair with bookshops seems to be fading. But even the briefest of visits to one of these intriguing bookshops will remind you why paperbacks are the only way to get your literature fix.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Having transcended the boundaries of time, the Teatro Grand Splendid in downtown Buenos Aires was first a performing arts theatre, then a cinema and now shelters the most grandiose bookshop on the planet. Visitors are invited to sit in the ornate theatre boxes that now serve as intimate reading rooms and admire the high frescoed ceilings, intricate carvings and plush red stage curtains that remain unchanged since their creation in the 1920s. The on-stage café even has a its very own piano player.
Libreria Acqua Alta- Venice, Italy
Sat on the side of one of Venice's many canals (the fire exit actually opens out directly onto the water) the Acqua Alta bookshop is an anxiety inducing treasure trove for bibliophiles. New and used books cover the walls, stacks function as furniture or are piled inside gondolas and bathtubs so when the acqua does get alta these cleverly-placed titles are kept out of harm's way. Luis Frizzio, the colorful 70-year-old Venetian owner, also lets a family of cats roam over the stacks of reading material.
Shakespeare and Co - Paris, France
Hidden in the shadows of the Notre Dame, on the left bank of the Seine, is Paris' most treasured English bookshop - Shakespeare and Co. Originally opened in 1919, it was "a gathering place for the great expat writers of the time" until it was forced to close during WW2. The creative spirit was revived after American George Whitman reopened the shop in 1951, which is now a mecca for the French capital's literature lovers. Once you've found a paperback treat amongst the bookshop's shelves, its adjoining café will welcome you with open arms.
Livraria Lello & Irmao- Porto, Portugal
With its neo-gothic design and stained glass ceiling that pours light over a winding staircase, it's no wonder this bookshop was the inspiration for the Hogwarts library in the Harry Potter films. Panels carved with Portuguese literary figures and ornamented pillars make this place all the more intriguing. At 110 years old, this art nouveau gem in Portugal's second city remains one of the world's most stunning bookshops.
Boekhandel Dominicanen - Maastricht, Netherlands
Occupying a 700-year-old Catholic church, this Polare bookstore has won awards for architectural design. A combination of old Gothic features, such as vaulted ceilings, decorative frescoes and ornate arches, and a minimalist interior with black steel bookshelves, keep visitors entertained for hours. It houses a massive three stories of books and the grand altar has been transformed into a café, decorated by a halo of lights for heavenly dining.