10 Most Magical Book Towns Around the World
By Jeff Bogle | July 9, 2022
As a town, Hay-on-Wye’s roots can be traced back nearly a thousand years. As a book town, this rural settlement of 1,900 people, located 60 miles due north of Cardiff as the crow flies, and straddling the perforated edge separating England and Wales, first appeared on most maps in 1961.
This is when Richard Booth, a local academic and antiquarian, founded what is believed to be planet Earth’s first book town. In the decades since, additional book towns have sprouted up in far corners of the globe, idyllic utopias capable of providing book lovers with not only destinations worth visiting but also, the most efficient and economical ways to add to their ever-growing TBR piles!
By definition, a book town “is a small, preferably rural, town or village in which secondhand and antiquarian bookshops are concentrated.”
In some special cases, such as in Fjærland, Norway, the villages themselves are ghost towns save for the thousands and thousands of used books living within. Here are ten of the most evocative, historic, and intoxicating book towns, from India to upstate New York, places where the smell of paper is every bit as fragrant as the wildflowers sprouting around the corner or the saltwater lapping up on shore nearby.