Best bookshops of Turkey
Where to find English-language books in Istanbul
While many Istanbul hostels have communal bookshelves available for swapping a novel you’ve finished for a new one, the more heavily stocked selections at these places make them more reliable places to find our summer reading list picks – and scour for new favourites of your own.
Robinson Crusoe 389
Perhaps Istanbul’s most famous bookstore, RC389 is a mecca for readers and browsers alike. Book-lovers can spend ample time combing through the shelves that reach the small shop’s high ceilings (complete with ladders to reach them). You’ll find most of the books recommended here, and plenty more to boot.
İstiklal Caddesi 195, Beyoğlu (0212) 293 69 68/www.rob389.com.
Though it may have an even better selection than Robinson Crusoe, Pandora hasn’t gotten quite as much hype, but this bookstore is a marvellous place to lose yourself. A wide variety of both fiction and non-fiction is available. From anthropology to history, you’ll find a great selection of books on Turkish culture amongst the more general pickings.
Büyük Parmakkapı Sokak 3, Beyoğlu (0212) 243 35 03/www.pandora.com.tr (Turkish-language website).
This four-storey bookshop has books in English, French and German available on the second floor. While it doesn’t offer much in terms of general fiction beyond the bestsellers, it does have a variety of translated novels by Turkish authors.
İstiklal Caddesi 96, Beyoğlu (0212) 249 55 55/www.insankitap.com(Turkish-language website).
The second-hand booksellers lined up in the main Ortaköy square mostly buy and sell Turkish-language books, but foreign-language ones are also available. The quirky books that can be found here make the selection worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Mecidiye Köprüsü Sokak, Ortaköy.
Linda’s Book Exchange
Long-time Istanbul expat Linda Robinson runs this cosy space in Beyoğlu, near the Babylon nightclub. Jam-packed with books of all kinds, it operates on a ‘bring one, take one’ principle that allows visitors to indulge their reading habit without running out of shelf space at home. The exchange also operates as an informal social centre where newcomers in particular can meet fellow expats and get information on apartment shares, job opportunities and the latest goings-on about town.
Şeyhbender Sokak 18/5, Asmalımescit, Beyoğlu. Weekdays 17.00-19.00.
Follow the tram line from Sultanahmet towards Çemberlitaş to find this singular English-language bookstore. Galeri Kayseri’s fiction literature is limited to Orhan Pamuk and Louis Berniéres, but they have a variety of histories from authors such as Lord Kinross, as well as glossy picture-books on calligraphy, Turkish cooking and Islam.
Divanyolu Caddesi 58, Sultanahmet (0212) 516 33 66/www.galerikayseri.com
In between the Grand Bazaar and the Beyazıt Mosque is a passage full of booksellers’ stalls. Many of them have Turkish-only offerings, focused on ESL and school books, but not İbrahim Manav, who has been a sahaf(second-hand bookseller) since 1946. At his place, you can find books new and old, in English, Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, French and probably many other languages too. His specialty is in history and calligraphy. Stop by here after a tour of the bazaar to chat with this antiquarian about his true love, the written word.
Sahaflar Çarşısı No. 20, Beyazıt (0212) 527 99 34.