Footnotes From the World’s Greatest Bookstores features 75 paintings by New Yorker cartoonist Bob Eckstein of the aforementioned stores, alongside bookshop anecdotes from the likes of David Bowie, Tracy Chevalier, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Palin, Roz Chast, Robin Williams, Patricia Marx, Philip Glass, Terry Gross, Ann Patchett, Jo Nesbo, Diane Keaton, Patti Smith, and many more.
New York City
This Fifth Avenue Beaux-Arts masterpiece landmark building was designed by architect Ernest Flagg specifically for Scribner Bookstore for Charles Scribner’s Sons publishing, whose authors included F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe. The store was forced to move to the more affordable downtown area before it was ultimately purchased by Barnes & Noble, Inc.
1877 to present
Kanda-Jimbocho is “book town” in a small area in central Tokyo; consisting of about 150 bookshops, it is the biggest secondhand book market in the world. In the late 1860s, schools such as the University of Tokyo, Gakushuin University, Jun-tendo University, Meiji University, and Chuo University all settled in the locale that would eventually house Jimbocho. The first of the area’s bookshops—catering to the influx of scholars—opened in 1877. Dozens more followed over the years.
El Ateno Grand Splendid
Buenos Aires, Argentina
2000 to present
Over a million people each year come to the El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore housed in the 1919 Teatro Grand Splendid. It was once the home of a radio station founded in 1924, recording the day’s great tango singers and conducting tango competitions. In the late twenties, the building expanded into a cinema, and in 1929 it showed the first talkies in Argentina. The theater is still intact except that the seats were removed in 2000 to turn it into arguably one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores.
1896 to present
The original establishment began nearby and moved a couple of times before opening at its current building in 1906. Designed by Xavier Esteves, Livaria Lello is still one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. The facade is an excellent example of neo-Gothic design, and its interior features Art Nouveau carved wood panels, arches, and columns, stained glass ceilings, glass bookshelves, and a curvaceous, twisting, store-long bookshelf.
1964 to present
The largest outdoor independent bookstore in America is at the corner of Matilija and Canada Street in the city of Ojai, California. Bart’s Books started when a personal book collection grew so massive that bookcases were placed outside along the sidewalk with coffee cans for shoppers to leave money. Since that time, the 1960s home turned into a bookshop with all levels of books, including rare, out-of-print first editions and art books valued in the thousands of dollars. Its two garages and a large patio are jammed with bookshelves containing more than 100,000 used books, and for books outside, the honor system is still in use.
The bookshop began having a sign-in guest book after Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward dropped by looking for an old edition of Huck Finn.
Reprinted from Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores. Copyright © 2016 by Bob Eckstein. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.