Although Contrapunto has several locations in Santiago, it’s still considered an independently owned bookstore. The best locale is in the Galeria Drugstore on Provencia, a friendly and cosy space that is largely dedicated to the arts. Books on architecture, photography, design, fashion and music line the shelves, while all sorts of comics including the ever-popular Marvel are a welcome recent addition. Prices can be a little steeper than elsewhere, but those on a budget have the option of waiting until August when they have a massive stock clearance to make room for incoming titles.
Great for the English speaking expat, Librería Antártica is one of the few stores in the city that stocks a respectable range of English language literature. Their selection isn’t huge, but Antártica’s friendly staff are more than willing to show what’s on offer and make a few recommendations. It also stocks a nice variety of high quality stationery and gifts.
Grupo Eductavio Inglesa primarily concern themselves with teaching English as a foreign language to locals. They have several stores around the city that stock all the latest English teaching resources, perfect for the Santiago expat who fancies tutoring a few classes for some extra cash. Some English language literature is available as well, but variety is limited so inquire first before paying a visit.
Half coffee shop half bookstore, Café Literario Bustamante is the most pleasant place in the city to enjoy a caffeine hit while getting stuck into an enthralling novel. Right in the middle of Parque Bustamante, it’s a great place to escape the city traffic and unwind for some rest, relaxation and reading. As with most Café Literarios around town, the place sells more coffee than books. But if you do see a novel you like, chances are it is available for purchase as well.
Café Literario Bustamante – Juana de Lestonac, Santiago, Chile, +56 2 2381 2230
Another great option for those looking to escape the bustle of downtown Santiago. Café Literario Mosqueto is just a few blocks from the main plaza in the city center making it the perfect respite for a sightseer with sore feet. This cozy little literature café serves quality breakfast, lunch and tea, great coffee, and offers a decent selection of things to read as well.
Having trouble finding something in English? Bigger backpacker hostels around the city often have book exchanges which are open to non-guests as well. Call ahead to ask if they have an exchange available and bring a book or two to swap for something new. Of course, selection will be limited to backpacker favorites like Eat Prey Love, Shantaram and The Gringo Trail, but that’s gotta be better than nothing, right?
Unfortunately, those living in Santiago who yearn to read in English are pretty much forced to go online to find what they want. At least Amazon and Book Depository deliver to Chile, meaning virtually everything imaginable is available at the click of a button (plus a week or so waiting time). If reading in English is essential, Santiago is a very good place to invest in a Kindle.