Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2011 Issue

Booking It in Europe


Shakespeare & Co. of Paris.

Our next stop was Paris, and I have to admit, we only had three days there, so we didn’t get to too many book stores. Many of the places we would have liked to have gone were so crowded with people that one could spend 2-3 hours in line just waiting for a ticket.  As one British friend said, “Brits love to queue up.”  I replied, “Americans don’t,” so we didn’t.  It was virtually impossible to relax and enjoy seeing a place like Notre Dame because of the people who were packed in shoulder to shoulder.  We did go to Musee Cluny, which was not crowded, and was fantastic.  We felt privileged to see the famous, exquisite tapestries “La Dame a la Licorne” or the Lady and the Unicorn.


However, the two bookstores we did find were great.  Shakespeare and Company is quite a well known store in bookselling circles. It is definitely not “just a bookstore” but a haven for booklovers and authors.  They have events, festivals, and book signings.  When we were there they were having a poetry reading on the second floor.  The place is so packed with books that it is very difficult to maneuver around inside because it was also packed with people.  But then we found most of Paris to be that way. Everywhere we went was so crowded we could barely breathe. 


Shakespeare & Co. has quite a long history.  It was originally called Le Mistral and established in 1951.  The name was later changed to Shakespeare & Co. by the owner, George Whitman, a former professor of physics, author of science books, soldier, and  world traveler.  He was a close friend of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and has entertained Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell and Allen Ginsburg, and many other well-known writers, in his store and in his home.  He is hospitable, interesting, and some say, eccentric.  Others called him “a light in a dull and homogenized world.”  He is presently retired and still living in Paris and nearly 100 years old.  He must be doing something right.

Posted On: 2011-06-01 00:00
User Name: Genet

A pity Ms. Wright didn't look further afield in Paris. The San Francisco Book Company (Rue Monsieur le Prince), only a ten-minute walk from Shakespeare

Posted On: 2011-06-01 00:00
User Name: nco4242

You have to go back. You missed the best part there are numerous stores scattered all around the city and a large Dutch Booksellers Assoc. While many

Posted On: 2011-06-06 00:00
User Name: Durdane

Next time visit Artus Quellinus, which is a part of Amsterdam Book Auctions. We are not really specialized in English books, but we have quite a lot

Posted On: 2011-06-07 00:00


I am afraid that you will find much of Europe's treasures, crowded, and full of treasure seekers like yourself, but don't be put off, everyt

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