Where to find English books in Amsterdam

Where to find English books in Amsterdam

Whether in the grass on a warm summer day or huddled in a blanket on the couch while the autumn rain is pattering on the window, a good book can enrich any season.

For those who like exploring the shelves for the best new paperbacks, hefty classics and dazzling page-turners, a good list of shops where you can browse the selection is essential.

English bookshops

Here are a few bookshops in Amsterdam with a good selection of English-language books that you can explore to see if they meet your literary requirements:

The American Book Center

The American Book Center (ABC) in the Spui has a fun and open atmosphere. The ground floor welcomes shoppers with art books, magazines and more, while one floor up offers brilliant walls of sci-fi, fantasy, young-adult books and comics.

Pop culture is well represented in both books and merchandise. If you go up one more floor you’ll find all kinds of genres, from classics to modern biographies.

ABC hosts various interesting events and get-togethers, such as meet-and-greets with authors and publishers, book clubs and game nights. Aspiring authors can even print, self-publish and sell their own books on the ABC website.

The ABC store has a welcoming layout that encourages the curious to explore all kinds of titles, and is a great regular stop for the English book lover in Amsterdam. They also have a store in The Hague.


Waterstones is a UK chain that has some gorgeous locations abroad. The Amsterdam store is located on a street corner on the Kalverstraat, one of the centre’s main shopping streets.

Whereas outside is a constant bustle of tourists, the inside of the building is cleverly divided into nooks and levels with different genres, target groups and English merchandise, so you can find your own little haven to browse the spines and covers.

The Waterstones Amsterdam Facebook page is a must for any local book lover, as they constantly post nice pictures of fancy editions, special events, literary quotes and reviews.

New English Bookstore

The New English Bookstore at the end of the Kalverstraat is a bit of a treasure hunt. If you put in a bit of a search, you can find many great books for very reasonable prices.

Its good selection on multiple floors, and the prices ranging from five to around 10 euros for standard issues and a bit more for special items, make up for the fact that the shelves can be a bit disorganised. Make sure you have enough time to browse before you go!

Although it’s a relatively small shop, you can find many different genres, including cook books, travel guides, architecture, art and fashion books and various works of fiction.

The Book Exchange

If you prefer second-hand copies, check out The Book Exchange. This independent business has been around for quite a while, but it keeps updating so you can always find new books and genres.

Although the books are all used, the organisation makes sure that they are all in good shape. Many clients appreciate the personal and kind customer treatment.

Ambling through the various rooms, you will find high stacks of page-turners. The basement is filled with science fiction and fantasy, and there is a modest but expanding comic book section as well.

After picking out and buying your selection, there are a lot of nice cafes close by to start reading right away.

Booksellers with an English selection

Several booksellers in Amsterdam offer a selection in multiple languages. Here are some with an English assortment as well as Dutch, and maybe a few more languages:

Athenaeum Bookstore

Located in the same area as ABC and Waterstones, the Athenaeum Bookstore is a must-see for its diverse selection of books. Rather than catering to the passing tourist, this small shop goes for an intellectual and curious audience that's into academic topics and all kinds of literature in both Dutch and English.

When visiting the Athenaeum Boekhandel, don’t miss a look at the Athenaeum Newsstand located right next to it! There, you can find a great selection of magazines, which are mainly in English.

Find recent issues and world press titles, both popular and unusual, on politics, art, feminism and all kinds of other interesting topics. If you can’t find your magazine in the Newsstand, odds are you won’t find it anywhere else in the Netherlands, either.

The Bookstore and Newsstand are close to the American Book Centre, making them great stops on a local book run.

Book market on the Spui

The weekly book market takes place on the Spui, and offers second-hand and antique books in all kinds of languages. It is held every Friday from 10am to 6pm, and has been around for more than 20 years.

Peruse around 25 stands for a wide selection of books, as well as prints, pamphlets, documents and magazines at this famous book spot.

Stedelijk Museum

The bookshop at Stedelijk Museum has an excellent selection of international authors. Find high-quality books about art, photography and design, as well as all kinds of special accessories and gifts.

Find more English books

Avid searchers are sure to find even more Amsterdam shops that sell good English books, from the AKO on Central Station that offers a modest selection of bestsellers to pick up before you board your train, to a specialised comics and manga store.

Take a look in Scheltema, Fenix Books, Boekhandel Perdu and all other places that seem like they may have some hidden literary gems, you never know where you might find that one special copy to bury your nose in.

Did you find any good ones? Let us know in the comments below!

Alexandra van Kampen


Alexandra van Kampen

English and Japanese theatre and culture are my forte. My mother was raised in England, and my grandmother in Japan. I studied Japanese Language and Culture, and Film and Photographic...

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Hans Becker 09:49 | 12 July 2019

Check out the secondhand bookstalls in the lovely Oudemanhuispoort, especially the charityshop Books4Life Amsterdam, with a whole wall of cheap English pockets & paperbacks. Open every afternoon.