From being the birthplace of the ‘Father of the Catalan Language’ – Ramón Llull – to the likes of Jules Verne, Robert Graves, and Kingsley Amis finding inspiration on the island, Mallorca has a long and rich literary tradition. So it’s no surprise that this Balearic isle is home to a wealth of independent bookstores, where you can often buy new or second hand books in a variety of languages. Read on for a selection of our favourites.
Tucked away in a quieter corner of Palma’s Old Town, the Literanta bookstore is one to be sought out rather than stumbled across. Its atmospheric interior offers an excellent collection of novels, biographies, philosophy, arts, and history, though pretty much all in Castilian or Catalan, with just a small selection of English and German books. There’s also a lovely little bar-cafe at the back and a cozy corner lounge for perusing your purchases. They also run regular writing workshops and literary events.
Just around the corner from Literanta, but with a lot more passing footfall is Fine Books. Run by a veteran British bookseller, this Tardis-like establishment opens up into three levels of towering bookshelves, stuffed with (mostly second-hand) books of every genre imaginable. The vast majority are in English, and quality varies from musty old paperbacks to genuinely valuable collectors’ items. Scattered amongst the books are numerous antiques, original artworks, and old vinyl records, giving the place the feel of somewhere between an Aladdin’s cave and a dusty junk shop.
Located in the laid-back neighbourhood of Portals Nous west of Palma, this British-run bookshop is very much the hub of the local (and largely ex-pat) community. As well as new copies of a range of novels and educational books for all ages, there’s an increasing stock of secondhand books in languages that include Spanish, Swedish, German, Dutch, Danish, and of course English. There’s also a lending library, plus non-bookish extras such as greeting cards, knitting lessons, and gift wrapping services.
Taking its name from the story by Jorge Luis Borges, La Biblioteca de Babel exudes an effortless and understated atmosphere of intellectual cool. Neatly arranged bookshelves are filled mostly with novels in Castilian, as well as sections for the likes of travel, cinema, and art. It also hosts various literary events, talks, and presentations, plus there’s a bar and charming front terrace overlooking a delightful corner of Palma Old Town where customers can order from an excellent list of wines.
One of Palma’s iconic bookshops, Llibreria Dracmagic was rescued from closure in 2011 by the present owners. They sought to transform it into a cultural space, with an emphasis on independent publishing and books on critical thinking. But it’s not all high-brow, with a decent assortment of booked for children and teenagers, in Castilian, Catalan, and English. There’s also a basement for events such as readings, talks, and signings, and the shop makes regular appearances in Palma’s literary street markets.
One of the few independent bookstore located outside of the capital, Llibreria Espirafocs is located in the town of Inca and deals largely is educational and instructional books. It also offers a good assortment of classic and contemporary literature, and everything from self-help books, to biographies, gardening, and cookbooks. A varied children’s section, reading suggestions, and even regular competitions make this well worth a visit (though books are almost exclusively Castilian and Catalan).
Opening their first bookshop in Barcelona in 1984, Palma’s Come In bookstore opened its doors almost twenty years later (in 2013). Covering 230 square metres, it’s a vast space specialising in English-language books of all types, genres, and eras. With a comprehensive selection of tutorial textbooks, it’s a go-to shop for teachers and students of English, but also offers an impressive range of classical and contemporary literature. There’s also a great collection of wordy boardgames, DVDs, and course textbooks for Spanish, French, and German.