Ten of the World’s Great Late-Night Bookstores

The flagship Eslite bookstore in Taipei, Taiwan’s Xinyi district circa 2013.

After reading this post from the New York Time’s Sinosphere blog about the popularity of Taiwan’s Eslite bookstore chain and the large number of young people and urban professionals in Taipei who are spending the wee hours of the morning hanging out at the gigantic Eslite bookstore in that city, it’s easy to conclude that there still are places in this world where bookstore culture is thriving, despite the disappearance of most independent bookstores in the US and elsewhere in the West.

So what about some of the other bookstores that stay open through the late-night hours? Where can some of those be found these days? In no particular order, here are ten bookstores and bookstore that stay open late at night:

1.) The Sanlian Taofen Bookstore. While Eslite caters to night owls in Taiwan and Hong Kong (and soon, in a couple of cities in mainland China as well), one of the major Sanlian Taofen bookstores in Beijing began catering to night owls in that city in April of 2014 when it started staying open for 24 hours a day.

Like Eslite, the Taofen Bookstore has a library-like atmosphere where readers who aren’t sleeping can immerse themselves in a novel all night and enjoy a little peace and quiet from all the pressures of daily life.

According to this article from CCTV, Sanlian’s year-long experiment in late-night bookstores has been such a success that a second 24-hour Taofen bookstore near Beijing’s Tsinghua University campus has opened as well!

2.) Shibuya Publishing Booksellers. One of Tokyo’s coolest bookstores is one that stays open until midnight!

Shibuya Booksellers is located in Tokyo’s Shibuya shopping district. One of the many things that make this bookstore different from others is that it organizes its books by theme rather than genre or author. For instance, you might find Haruki Murakami’s After the Quake grouped together with books on earthquakes or geology. Apparently books here were organized by the decade in which they were published a few years back, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

Also, unlike other bookstore chains, they don’t limit their selection of books to books only published by Shibuya Publishing. They sell many other books from a wide variety of other publishers as well as magazines from around the globe. Of course being in Japan a big chunk of their selection is in Japanese, but they do have some English language books for sale.

The bookstore also features a coffee bar and art installations, making it the perfect place for a hipster to hang out at night!

For more info about Shibuya Booksellers, please see their homepage or be sure to check out TimeOut Tokyo’s special review on them at http://www.timeout.jp/en/tokyo/venue/2113/Shibuya-Publishing-Booksellers.

3.) Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus. Another bookstore that stays open until midnight is the Dussmann das KultureKaufhaus bookstore in Berlin. This gigantic bookstore, which is located in eastern Berlin’s Friedrichstraße shopping district, is five stories tall and sells media of all kinds ranging from books to DVDs to CDs to calendars and much more!

Also featured in this bookstore is a restaurant, Catherine’s, and an English section (featuring a massive selection of over 6,000 English titles) that is now a “shop within a shop”.

This bookstore is perfect for spending a whole day (or a whole night for that matter!) just shopping around and taking in what the store has to offer!

4.) St. Mark’s Bookshop. Having been in business since 1977, St. Mark’s Bookshop in New York City has stood the test of time as far as bookstores go these days!

Located in NYC’s East Village, St. Mark’s stays open from 11 am to 11 pm everyday except Sunday and is the place for book lovers to go once all the other book stores close for the evenings! They have an amazing selection of books to choose from and host upcoming events such as author readings and magazine launches.

This is definitely the place to go if you love to spend an evening surrounded by books and literary events!

Update (12/09/2016): St. Mark’s closed its doors in February 2016.

5.) City Lights Booksellers and Publishers. One of the USA’s most historic bookstores just happens to be one that stays open until midnight!

City Lights Books was founded in San Fransisco, CA in 1953 by the Beat Generation poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin. It was a place where Beatniks could congregate and read poetry during the 1950s and early 1960s and where hippies could turn on, tune in, and drop out a generation later. It is also the first all-paperback bookstore in the US.

To this day, City Lights has remained true to its independent roots and carries a nice stock of the latest titles ranging from best-sellers to thought-provoking, controversial classics of the past century. The atmosphere in City Lights is very alternative…as it has been since the day it first opened its doors. The ailes are maze-like and the store is decorated with signs containing hand-written messages!

6.) Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe & Grill. For night owls and book lovers living in Washington, DC, the one place to go is Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe and Grill. As you may have guessed, this is a book store, bar, cafe, and restaurant all rolled into one. Founded in 1971, Kramer’s prides itself on being both an indie bookstore and a restaurant/bar where a night owl who loves eating out at midnight or later can do so!

Kramer’s is open from 7:30 am-1 am everyday except Friday and Saturday, when they stay open until 4 am.

This place is a dream come true for night owls!

7.) Eslite Bookstore (Hong Kong). At the time of this writing, Eslite’s Hong Kong store also happens to be the only late-night bookstore in the territory. Spanning three stories high, this giant bookstore has quite a few English and Chinese book titles to choose from!

During the week, Eslite HK stays open from 10 am-11 pm and from 10 am-2 am on Fri-Sun nights.

8.) Book City. Since 1976, Book City has been one of Toronto, ON’s most popular indie book store chains. Initially opening its doors in the Annex district, Book City has branched out across the city and has been one of Toronto’s premier book store chains for nearly four decades now. Furthermore, their Danforth location keeps their doors open until 10 pm on Mon-Wed and 11 pm on Thurs-Sat.

9.) Powell’s City of Books. No list of late-night bookstores would be complete without this store! Located in Portland, OR, Powell’s City of Books is a colossal bookstore spanning a full city block with well over a million books in their inventory, which strongly justifies their claim to be the world’s largest independent bookstore!

Powell’s offers over 3,500 sections of books, an art gallery that features a monthly art exhibit and author events (often featuring famous authors, artists, poets, and more), do-it-yourself book publishing, and of course, coffee and espressos!

Powell’s stays open from 9 am to 11 pm 7 days a week, making it a prime nighttime hotspot for Portland.

10.) Liberarte. Buenos Aires’s Avenida Corriente (Corriente Avenue) is a long avenue of intellectual and nightlife hotspots that stay open during the night hours long after the rest of the city has gone to sleep.

One of the top late-night bookstores along this thoroughfare is the Liberate bookstore. This is a place where Argentine booklovers and intellectuals who aren’t sleeping can come and discuss some of the latest literature. However, it is much more than that. It’s an eclectic mix of a bookstore, CD/DVD store (with its own movie club), and theatre!

In addition to books, Liberarte has a theatrical hall that hosts theatrical, dance, and comedy performances from renowned performers at night (from both Argentina and elsewhere in the world), as well as book readings and discussions from some of Argentina’s most famous writers, and a publishing house that publishes a number of new book titles.

For any night owls visiting Buenos Aires, this is a place you won’t want to miss! For more information about Liberarte, see the following website from the Buenos Aires city government: http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/areas/cultura/cpphc/sitios/detalle.php?id=34 (Spanish language only)

Know of any other bookstores in this wide world of ours that stay open during the late night hours? Do you have any experiences with any of the above bookstores? Feel free to share your experiences in the Comments below!

(Image copyright: Kwongning210. Used via Wikimedia Commons per Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)
    The Eslite Bookstore chain is owned by and a copyright of the Eslite Corporation based in Taipei, Taiwan. This blog is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Eslite Corporation in any way, shape or form. Furthermore, the blog is not affiliated with or endorsed by any of the other bookstores listed above. All listings in this post are a result of the author’s own independent research and initiative.

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