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9 Of The Most Amazing Bookstores In The World (PHOTOS)

The Huffington Post     First Posted: 07/26/10 06:23 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 06:10 PM ET

It's a difficult time for bookstores. Online booksellers offer seductively low prices and the convenience of ordering from home. eBooks are poised to change the business of publishing as we know it, allowing readers to bypass printed material altogether. There are news stories almost every day telling us about another independent bookstore that has shut down, a casualty of the changing book business.

However, we hope that there will always be a place for physical bookstores. Below, we have gathered some of the most amazing bookstores in the world -- the places that would make any reader shut their laptop, put aside their eReader, and go out to buy a book. From New York to Portugal to China, we've picked the most beautiful, impressive, and inspiring. Let us know what you think, and if we missed any incredible bookstores, in the comments section below.

For more amazing book places, check out our slideshows on the most amazing libraries in the world and the best independent bookstores.

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  • Selexyz Bookstore in Maastricht, Holland

    Named the best bookstore in the world by the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/jan/11/bestukbookshops" target="_hplink">Guardian in 2008</a>, this branch of the Selexyz chain brings book selling to a heavenly new level. The store is located inside of a refurbished Dominican church. The original structure dates to 1294, and since its creation has served as a parish, a warehouse, an archive, and a bike storage lot.

  • Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal

    Constructed in 1881, Livraria Lello features a luxuriant interior decorated with stained glass and beautifully carved wood. A curving red staircase connects the two levels of the space.

  • El Ateneo in Buenos Aires, Argentina

    This stunning bookstore was once a theater named The Grand Splendid. In 1929, the Grand Splendid was first location in the world to show movies with sound. Now, book lovers can enjoy a coffee on the elegant cafe located on the old stage while they take a break from browsing the store's large selection.

  • Poplar Kid’s Republic, Beijing

    This bright and playful space houses one of China's first and largest children's bookstore, stocking over 3,000 titles in many languages. The store's imaginative architecture creates a fantastic space for parents and children alike.

  • Cafebreria El Péndulo in Mexico City, Mexico

    At once bar, cafe and bookstore, the Cafebreria El Pendulo offers a well air conditioned abode for reading and lounging. Living plants decorate the interior.

  • Shakespeare and Co, Paris

    This legendary English language bookstore has served as a haunt for literary greats such as Hemmingway and Fitzgerald. The store is generously stocked with both used and new books, and features an eclectic collection of not for sale books that can be enjoyed in the reading room upstairs. Often flooded with tourists, the bookstore still serves as go to spot for readers and writers alike.

  • The Strand in New York City, USA

    The Strand boasts that it houses "eighteen miles of books". Patrons can wander the vast and only slightly organized selection, shopping for used and discounted books alike.

  • Goulds Book Arcade in Sydney, Australia

    Bob Gould's has been a bookseller since 1967 and at its Newtown shop since 1988. Their website boasts: "There are around 300,000 books and records (vinyl) etc. in the public areas of the shop, around 650,000 books in storage, and around 70,000 books on line".

  • Hay-on-Wye in Wales

    Hay-on-Wye is known through out the world as 'The Town of Books.' There are more then thirty bookstores in the town, and it has come to be known as a center for second hand and antiquarian books.