Hidden behind an unassuming facade, Corso Como was founded in 1991 by former editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue Carla Sozzani. She brought her fashion nous to the complex that combines book and design stores with a cafe, hotel and roof garden.
The Polare bookstore in Maastricht came under threat when Polare declared bankruptcy in February. It remains open for the time being under the name 'Boekhandel Dominicanen' but staff have launched a crowdfunding campaign to save it from closure. Converted from a 13th Century Dominican church in 2006 by architects Merkx+Girod (now Merk X)
This branch of Mexcian bookstore Péndulo offers a cultivated way to avoid the heat of Mexico City. Customers can leaf through shelves spanning two storeys or sit at the cafe listening to live music.
Livraria Lello, Porto
This Portuguese landmark opened in the former Chardron Library at the turn of the 19th Century. Its Art Nouveau space is dominated by a curving staircase with ornate wooden carvings to match its intricate wall panels and columns.
Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice: Translating as ‘high water bookshop’, its canalside spot means an extra level of organisation for staff: the rubber boot-wearing owner has to move his books from the floor to bathtubs and higher shelves during regular flooding. “When Venice is flooded. People are wading along the streets in a foot or two of water & the buildings are boarded up. But the Libreria Acqua Alta is still open for business.
Bart’s Books, California
Bart’s Books – which calls itself “the world’s greatest outdoor bookstore” – was set up in 1964 by Richard Bartinsdale, who left book cases on the street to sell titles he no longer wanted. Passersby could leave money in a coffee can. Now, the store has nearly 1m books – many of which are still sold through an honour system – as well as a courtyard where browsers can play chess under the shade of an apple tree. (Photo : PR)
El Ateneo, Buenos Aires
Visitors can go from stage to page at this Argentinian icon. First built as the Teatro Grand Splendid in 1919, before becoming a cinema in 1929, El Ateneo appeals to the dramatic reader. With frescoed ceilings, ornate carvings and plush red stage curtains, it has retained its original splendour: customers can sit in the theatre boxes to browse in comfort. (Photo: Carlos Toledo/catoledo
Librairie Avant-Garde, Nanjing
Called China’s most beautiful bookshop, Nanjing’s Librairie Avant-Garde was built inside a former government car park that had also been a bomb shelter. To find their way into the 4,000 sq m underground space beneath Wutishan Stadium, visitors follow a yellow-striped road; inside, a replica of Rodin’s The Thinker sits alongside a cash till made out of old books, and pillars with famous literary verses carved into them. Another branch of the shop is housed inside Nanjing’s Presidential Palace – this one has managed to bring the palatial underground. (Photo: PR)