In recent years, Málaga has established itself as the most culturally-innovative city in Andalusia. As you’d expect, it has some superb independent bookstores, most of which are within walking distance of each other in the historical city centre. For book lovers in search of an alternative to impersonal high-street stores, these are the places to head in Málaga.
Nothing is too much for the ‘Bookshop of Lights‘: if, for some reason, you can’t find the title you’re looking for among their vast selection (all genres available, in several languages), then the super-helpful and knowledgeable staff will go out of their way to order it in for you. Such dedication is not surprising, given that Luces has been a fixture on one of Málaga’s busiest throughfares for more than 15 years. Indeed, the owners are members of Librerías Con Huella, a nationwide group of independent Spanish booksellers, and a genuine love of books informs the way they run this shop. Even better, Luces doesn’t shut for the three hour-long siesta break and stays open, without interruption, from 10am until 9pm.
Rayuela has been one of Málaga’s best independent bookstores since it opened in 1981 and, although small, houses a wide-ranging selection of titles. Along with Ancora and Luces, it is regarded by Malagueños as one of the few serious bookstores that remain in the city – i.e. a shop where the staff don’t need to rely on computers for their insight and info, and where you’re assisted by people who share your love of books. Located in the heart of La Merced, Málaga’s trendiest barrio, it specialises in books on linguistics – in which genre it has over 200,000 titles on its database – and humanities, in particular in psychology.
With excellent sections for fiction, poetry, art and philosophy, Librería Ancora is the intellectual’s bookshop. Into its small interior is crammed an implausible number of books, yet there is somehow still space for live music and occasional readings. The owner is charming and happy to offer recommendations to customers not quite sure of what they’re after, a fact which has made it a first-stop bookstore for both Malagueños and visitors over the years.
Though it has outlets all over Spain, Re-Read deserves to feature on this list because of its pricing structure and the strength of its secondhand offering. The Málaga store has a great choice of genres, in many languages, at prices that are – as the website promises – ‘almost impossible’ (just as the books are ‘almost new’). The deal at Re-Read is that you can buy one book for €3, two books for €5 and ten books for an amazing €10: in other words, this is the secondhand book lover’s dream shop. A fantastic place to browse, it also happens to be just across the street from the neighbourhood’s coolest bar, La Tranca.
Málaga’s best flea market is now so big that every Sunday it takes over the city’s vast recinto ferial – the sanded fairground on which the Málaga Feria is held every August. The Mercadillo Cortijo de Torres – which previously occupied a smaller site near the football stadium (Martiricos) – boasts 300 stalls selling pretty much anything you care to name, including some excellent secondhand book stalls. This is a great place to hunt for obscure classics, out-of-print works or early editions of your favourite books at knock-down prices. The market is served by the number 4 bus, which departs from the city centre’s main artery, the Alameda Principal.
You can sell as well as buy books, CDs, DVDs and comics at Librería Códice, a scruffy-looking place that houses a superb collection of secondhand titles. Located about halfway in between Re-Read and Ancora in the heart of Málaga’s old town, it’s a reminder of how all bookstores used to be: it has no digital database of works and the genre labels have clearly been knocked out on the (enormous desktop) computer in the back room. The selection of genres and titles is impressive, and the service polite and clued up, meaning this should be on the itinerary of any book lover visiting Málaga – especially those who love an old-school, no-frills ambience.