Considering that Amsterdam has a large academic community and a significant anglophone population, it is no surprise that the city contains several fantastic second-hand booksellers that specialize in English language literature. Here are the best places to rummage for preloved books in the city.
The Book Exchange is probably the best place in Amsterdam to find secondhand English literature and the store keeps its shelves stocked with a massive selection of preloved editions. Its collection is divided over three narrow floors with each level containing several specific genres. As The Book Exchange is located within the vicinity of the University of Amsterdam it regularly receives pre-owned academic publications and large parts of its floor space are dedicated to philosophy, history, sociology, and anthropology. Apart from these scholarly books, the Book Exchange also has a whole floor that is devoted to fiction.
📍 The Book Exchange, Kloveniersburgwal 58, Amsterdam +31 206 266 266
Scheltema is a true Dutch institution and has been selling books on Rokin since 1853. Due to its massive size it is currently recognized as the largest bookstore in Amsterdam and one of its upper floors is completely dedicated to second-hand literature. Although Scheltema mainly stocks Dutch language books, it also has an impressive selection of English literature. Most of its collection can be ordered online including its second-hand editions. The store also regularly hosts literary events such as book signings or writing workshops.
📍 Scheltema, Rokin 9, Amsterdam +31 205 231 411
Oudemanhuispoort is a large 17th-century building that is currently owned by the University of Amsterdam. Its entrance is concealed behind two monumental gates that lead to a covered walkway which is populated by a number of second-hand book dealers. This charming market has existed since the late 19th century and today its stands feature a wide variety of books which change on a daily basis.
Het Fort van Sjakoo is a non-profit bookstore and cultural center that was originally established by squatters in the late 1970s. This group occupied several buildings around the Nieuwmarkt area in order to prevent the government from demolishing large parts of the neighborhood. Eventually, Het Fort van Sjakoo was legalized and today it mainly focuses on left-leaning literature, including anarchism, Marxism, and feminism. The back corner of the store is dedicated to used books.
Amsterdam’s Spui square hosts a bustling book market every Friday. This weekly event has been taking place for almost 20 years and usually attracts around 25 professional booksellers. There’s a huge variety of rare, second-hand, and antique publications to dig through at the market and the sheer number of books on offer is always astounding. These stalls are actually located right next to three of the biggest bookstores in Amsterdam, namely Atheneum, Waterstones, and the American Book Centre.