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Bookstores seem to be dying faster than it takes to download the complete works of Shakespeare
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(CNN) — Bookstores seem to be dying faster than it takes to download the complete works of Shakespeare these days, so when one comes back from the grave it's a cause for celebration. As is the case in New York, where venerable retailer Rizzoli Bookstore -- booted out of its grandiose West 57th Street premises in April 2014 -- reopened for business in 2015. Some feared Rizzoli's flagship would be gone for good, mounting protests to decry the loss of its elaborate ceilings bedecked with chandeliers, iron-railed balconies and, of course, its well-stocked shelves.
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China's most beautiful bookstore is located inside a massive underground parking lot once used as a bomb shelter. The 4,000-square-meter store's unusual features include large crosses, a copy of Rodin's "The Thinker" and a checkout counter built out of thousands of old books. The store also functions as a sort of public library, with more than 300 reading chairs. "A good bookshop should provide space, vision and nurture the city with its humanitarian spirit," owner Qian Xiaohua tells CNN. "It's a place for people to have dreams in the city." Librairie Avant-Garde, No.173 Guangzhou Road, Nanjing China;
Located on the ground floor of the Bauer Hotel, a restored 18th-century palazzo, this boutique opened by luxury publisher Assouline in 2014 is a study in beautiful interior design. The store stocks many of the label's most expensive books, such as handcrafted volumes from its Ultimate Collection -- priced from $500 to $7,000 -- which range in subject matter from fashion and architecture to travel and lifestyle. Assouline Venezia, Bauer Hotel, San Marco, Venice, Italy; +39 041 240 6876; Monday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Previous incarnations of this sublime bookstore and its publishing house date to 1869, but this beauty was built in 1906 by engineer Xavier Esteves. A century later, it remains arguably the world's most beautiful bookstore, with neo-Gothic architecture incorporating stained glass, a sweeping staircase and a plaster ceiling imitating wood. It's become so popular with tourists, in July 2015 the store started charging entrance fees. A stunning panorama of the store can be seen at 360 Portugal. Livraria Lello & Irmao, Rua das Carmelitas 144 Vitória, Porto 4050-161 Portugal;
Built in the 13th century, this 1,100-square-meter former Dominican church was converted into a bookstore in 2006. Before an award-winning redesign, the Gothic space had been used for numerous purposes: housing the Maastricht City Orchestra, hosting children's carnivals and slaughtering sheep. In addition to stocking 40,000 books in Dutch, English, French, Spanish and Italian, and pouring the best coffee in town, the store hosts approximately 140 events per year. "There is always something happening here," Boekhandel Dominicanen representative Ton Harmes tells CNN. Boekhandel Selexyz Dominicanen, 1 Dominikanerkerk Street, 6211 Maastricht The Netherlands;
Visitors should set aside a good two to three days to get lost in this iconic Portland landmark. The largest used and new bookstore in the world is housed inside a modest, multi-level building that takes up a full city block and is often crowded. New and used editions are shelved side by side, giving customers a handy choice of price options. The biggest names in publishing show up here to do readings and book signings -- the venue is highly sought out by authors on book tour. The staff's passion for reading shines through on the store's treasure of a website, which features an entertaining book blog in addition to a comprehensive and ambitious online store. Powell's City of Books, 1005 W Burnside, Portland, OR;
Housed in a 150-year-old former sly grog shop (speakeasy) on one of Melbourne's most interesting streets, this small bookstore is the only retail shop in Australia specializing in cookbooks. Every type of cuisine and culinary category imaginable can be found on its floor-to-ceiling shelves. Treasures include several beautiful 18th-century culinary books. "Our customers are chefs, foodies and armchair gourmets," co-owner Tim White tells CNN. "We catalog more than 40,000 cookbooks and on any given day have at least 30,000 in stock." The store ships around the world, at cost. Books for Cooks, 233 Gertrude St Queen Victoria Market, Fitzroy, Yarra, Victoria 3000 Australia;
Back in the 1920s, six blocks of Manhattan's Fourth Avenue were known as "Book Row." Of the 48 bookstores that gave the district its name, Strand is the only survivor. After moving to its current location on Broadway and 12th Street, the beloved NYC store built up a staggering catalog that now includes 2.5 million new, used and rare books. The coolest section is the Rare Book Room. "Our most expensive title in store right now is a copy of James Joyce's 'Ulysses' illustrated by Henri Matisse," marketing manager Brianne Sperber told CNN in 2014. The book was then priced at $45,000. "People still read hardbacks and books are still collectors' items so we expect Strand will continue to fare well against Amazon," says Sperber. The Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway, New York City, NY;
This quirky 24-hour shop has made a name for itself not only for selling books and coffee, but for providing a haven for travelers. Inspired by Shakespeare and Company in Paris (above), the founder of 1200 Bookshop offers free stays to backpackers in a private room on the store's premises. "We are doing business at the store during daytime but making friends at night," says founder Liu Erxi. To apply for a stay, travelers must email the store ( in advance, stating their background and reasons for requesting a stay -- foreign tourists are welcome. Chosen guests may be asked to share their experiences with customers during one of the regular midnight in-store seminars. 1200 Bookshop, 27 East Tiyu ST, Tianhe District, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China; +86 20 8526 0827; open 24 hours daily
In June 2014, the century-old London bookseller moved into its spacious new digs -- the size of 13 tennis courts -- just a step away from its former home. Foyles' new space has its own interesting history as the former Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design building, where Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney once studied. The stage where the Sex Pistols played their first gig in 1975 now houses the Foyles' children's department. The store also launched a helpful in-store digital book search map that's automatically enabled on customers' smartphones when they connect to the store's Wi-Fi network -- the first of its kind in the country. Foyles Bookshop, 113 - 119 Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0EB England;
Opened in 1965, this massive bookstore is one of Detroit's must-visit venues. Housed in an old glove factory and with more than a million books in stock, the store has more than 900 (yep, 900!) alphabetized categories. Some of the most notable books in the King collection? "Right now, we have a copy of the true First Edition of the Book of Mormon, priced at $100,000," owner John K. King told CNN in 2014. "Our oldest book is a copy of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, printed in Venice in 1482." A quote from its website sums up the store's enormous scale: "We buy books and libraries!" John K. King Books, 901 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226;

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