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Old 06-09-2019, 04:52 PM   #1
mdp
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Physical bookstores with a numerous (100'000+ volumes) collection?

Which are the best physical bookstores, walled shops, "left" in the world? For "best", I mean those which still have a numerous collection, not just a selection: say, at least in the order of the 100'000 volumes stored for sale.

Thing is, it has become more and more difficult to find a bookstore as defined above. I see shops that offer no more than a few thousand volumes, sometimes even less.

It has become increasingly difficult to find a shop where you can ask for "Publisher Alpha, Collection ABC, Publication 456" and find it in the store itself. My experience was, in the past, to ask for some title and be replied "Are you joking? The publisher closed 30 years ago! Check in that shelf" - and find what I requested; this typical, once unsurprising pattern is getting less than uncommon.

The best bookstores of yore had shelves up to the ceiling and narrow corridors between them - like storage for libraries. Only a few are left. Can you help forming a list of the few remaining giants? Again: the requisite is, they should aim to have most of the available in-house. Hundreds of thousands of books is what I am used to in my reference places.

ALSO valid as "best" are those bookstores that attempt to contain exhaustively the publications of a single publisher: a bookstore that sells, say, 80% of what was published in the last three (or more) decades by, say, Diogenes, or Adelphi, or Odile Jacob, or Dorling Kindersley...

Fifteen years ago, paper books were norm, "mobile reading" used them for the most part and «gadgets» a special interest of «mobile geeks». Today, it takes tagging efforts similar to wildlife preservation ones to find simply a place to browse a collection (not a selection), check its items, cover the editions a country with some completeness...
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Old 06-09-2019, 10:19 PM   #2
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Not sure how many books, but Abbey Bookstore in Paris meets your narrow stacks criteria.

As does Gould's (2nd hand and remainders) in Sydney. Before it moved a few years ago it could take half a day to find a specific book there. It's less of a shambles these days, but it used to boast at least six figures of books, maybe seven. Which reminds me, I need to go there to see if they have a copy of All that Swagger.

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Old 06-09-2019, 11:11 PM   #3
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Only place I can think of around here that's that large might be Midway Books in St. Paul, Minnesota. Three floors of books.
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Old 06-16-2019, 02:47 PM   #4
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The thread was moved to the lounge (nice place, but not wearing a stern frown), very probably because the format of book I refer to is not electronic. Bah. Mh. (Ph., Zh., Gh.) I radically doubt that the reader focuses on format rather than substance.

Paper remains in full a mobile reading device. And contrary to 15 years ago, difficulties are today much stronger in accessing paper than somehow accessing electronic content (which does not count as a replacement - especially if your intention is browsing, in and out)...

EDIT: the chief purpose and benefit of electronic format is flexibility of use (storage, work etc.), but it does not match the importance of physical format for decision making (text sieving, discovery and assessment).

Last edited by mdp; 06-29-2019 at 04:06 AM.
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Old 06-16-2019, 02:49 PM   #5
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I found information about bookstores in France (I have a definite fondness for the region); this list mentions a few of those with more business weight:
  • Gibert Joseph, Paris (4900 sq.m)
  • Gibert Jeune rive gauche, Paris (2300 sq.m)
  • Mollat, Bordeaux (2700 sq.m)
  • Furet du nord, Lille (4700 sq.m)
  • Sadel, Brissac-Quincé
  • Sauramps, Montpellier (2050 sq.m)
  • Librairie-papeterie Cufay, Abbeville
  • L'Appel du livre, Paris (470 sq.m)
  • Ombres blanches, Toulouse (1550 sq.m)
  • La Procure, Paris (800 sq.m)
  • Le Grand Cercle, Cergy-Pontoise (1000 sq.m)
  • Lavoisier, Cachan [apparently known for the e-sales, the building at 14 rue Provigny has a promising "Librairie Internationale" sign in front]
  • Eyrolles, Paris (1200 sq.m)
  • EMLS, Vitrolles (2000 sq.m)
  • L'Armitiére, Rouen (1500 sq.m)
  • La Galerne, Le Havre (1300 sq.m)
  • Grand Palais, Paris
  • Le Forum du livre, Rennes (1300 sq.m)
  • Flammarion Centre, Paris (600 sq.m)
  • Le Failler, Rennes (700 sq.m)

An idea can be given by the area coverage: it cannot provide a real idea of the amount of books stored (after minimalism and some influence from Timothy Leary, it is sometimes considered artsy to place a book per room), but it is still a lead.
I have not yet visited any of those, but they are in the to-do list.

Last edited by mdp; 06-16-2019 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 06-17-2019, 12:16 AM   #6
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Powell's Books in Portland Oregon should be close to that. Not sure on exact size but they have a lot.
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Old 06-23-2019, 08:48 PM   #7
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In NYC, we have The Strand bookstore, which advertises "18 miles of books" and is not exaggerating.
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Old 06-29-2019, 04:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
In NYC, we have The Strand bookstore, which advertises "18 miles of books" and is not exaggerating
That would beat any experience of mine for what bookstores are concerned: that would mean that The Strand hosts a whopping 1'500'000 books, one million and a half.
EDIT: but in the video after Dennis' link Fred Bass states that the actual collection is of 2-and-a-half to 3 million books... That video makes me speechless ('impressed' does not really come close).

To get the initial figure (miles-to-books computation): a look at my personal library shows a nice average of 50 books per linear meter or 80 per thousandth of mile, varying from around 20 to around 80 per meter (30 to 130 in mi/1000).

For comparison, and using the different, protected reality of libraries, the Sormani in Milan (not an attic) should contain around 650'000 volumes, but the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence triple-doubles that to over 5'500'000; the Library of Congress in Washington almost 25'000'000 catalogued books; the British Library in London 14'000'000, and the Bibliothèque nationale de France again 14'000'000 (while the total number of collected items besides books may vary - up to the order of 200mil for Washington and London).

I could move. EDIT: or at least, travel and shake hands with Ms. Bass.

Last edited by mdp; 06-29-2019 at 06:46 AM.
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