Where used books are concerned, Istanbul’ssahaflar (used bookstores) or sahaflar çarşıları(used book markets) are especially popular ways of browsing through the city, so to speak. You’ll come across used textbooks, novels in various languages, and even antiques you won’t find anywhere else. You just need to know where to look.
For comic book lovers, 40 Ambar is quite the heavenly space filled with their favorite heroes and heroines. From Superman to Batman, Captain America to Dylan Dog, 40Ambar has all the well-known and more obscure characters for the comic-strip obsessed. Vintage comic books, graphic novels, and movie poster are mainly in Turkish, but some rare finds in English are also a possibility.
Beyoğlu’s main used book market is located in a two-story building full of sellers, some more notable than others. Check out SCS Kitabevi for a wide scope of work, from famous Turkish author Aziz Nesin to Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, a standout selection of old photographs, records, maps, and early 20th century magazines. Another worthy seller is the Sanat Kitabevi with an excellent selection of art and architecture books as well as records and old prints.
Even though this historic collection of sahaflar does not sell the precious books it once did, there are still a few sellers that preserve this market’s former glory. Make your way to Orient Shop, where the main deal is the reproduction of Ottoman manuscript pages, and fermans (declarations on behalf of the Ottoman sultan). Another necessary stop is Yeni Çığır Kitabevi, which has been operated by the same family for two generations. Here you’ll find excellent Ottoman era documents with a price to match as well as authoritative knowledge exhibited by the owners.
If you happen to find yourself on the Asian side, İmge Sahaf is the best destination for used books. You’ll be able to browse through Ottoman newspapers and books, as well as second hand books in Turkish and a wide range of photography. On their website, the bookseller also displays all its products, ranging from books in German, French, Italian, and English to Masonic publications and parapsychology (just to name a few).
Truly a hidden bookworm treasure, Sahaf explores Turkish history through its precious collection of writings from European authors throughout the centuries. Apart from the many books, you can also lovingly gaze at the vintage board games and post cards that also keep the past very much alive. Don’t be dissuaded by the store’s location close to a hotel, its collection speaks for itself.