They are called Alfarrabistas in portuguese, from 'alfarrábio', after an islamic word. It means old book. These are stores that buy and sell mainly old or second-hand books, rare and out-of-print titles from all kinds of genres of literature, centered around the Lisbon center. There is no reason why you shouldn't enjoy some literature just because you are abroad! If you are an avid book reader, collector or just enjoy a nice book with great company, this list is for you!
Because the alfarrabistas are scattered across the city, a perfect way to get to know them is strolling around the streets and dicovering them as you go. They are usually small stores, but you will find their shelves are full! This is just a small selection out of all the stores you can find in Lisboa. Go inside and you will surely find something that speaks to you, or grab that particular edition you were looking for.
Besides the stores, there is also a fair going on every week! Every sunday in Rua da Anchieta, in Chiado, booksellers gather to sell some of their stock in the Feira de Alfarrabistas. It is a nice alternative to the shops, with a large amount of bargains! You can see the different styles of literature on the tables placed in the middle of the street, some occasional prints and arts and crafts addittions aswell.
It is important to know that over the years these bookshops have been struggling to keep afloat in their trade. Big stores and online repositories have brought a completely different way to deal with the buying and selling of new and used books. Even for those who managed to remain open, the increasing popularity of Lisboa as a touristic destination has provoqued the increase of rent, and as a result their number has been decreasing.
When you are on your trip around Lisboa, pay a visit to these fantastic booksellers, check out the classics and the obscure titles they sell, and don't be afraid to ask for a particular title. Let the alfarrabistas know you appreciate the traditional, more personal way of trading books!
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