© iStock / VanderWolf-Images
© iStock / VanderWolf-Images

Reading culture in Argentina; Second-hand bookstores in Buenos Aires

3 minutes to read

Although Buenos Aires is known as the city that never sleeps with its nightlife being one of the wildest in South America, Argentina's capital also has a bunch of options for those who are into the cultural scene -and specifically the book culture. One of the most unusual and, at the same time, unique, is the second-hand books court located in Corrientes Avenue. Surrounded by big theaters and emblematic pizza restaurants, we can find a large number of second-hand bookstores spread across eight blocks on this famous avenue- from Libertad street to Ayacucho street. The most peculiar detail: they are open until 3 am or sometimes even later.

In Buenos Aires, there is one bookstore per about four-thousand people. The city breathes culture and books are everywhere, forming the reading part of Argentina’s DNA. Even today, in the era of e-readers and digitalization, you will see a lot of people carrying and reading books in bars, squares, and public transports.

These second-hand bookstores are not simple shops but "cult spots." They are part of the history and the cultural heritage of Buenos Aires. Both the owners and the shop-assistants are crazy about literature and passionate about their jobs. In fact, most of them believe that having the opportunity to work there is a gift and a privilege.

© Pixabay / HalloweenHJB
© Pixabay / HalloweenHJB

This quirky second-hand book movement was established in the 1940s, and the atmosphere of the old days is still there. So you can easily travel back in time by browsing through these iconic stores while tasting a slice of pizza from any of the typical “Pizzerias” on Corrientes Avenue. Reading that rare-to-find book of 150 Argentine pesos (3 euros) while enjoying a cup of coffee at 2 am in an iconic cafe is an unconventional and bohemian option too. In addition, every year, the night of the bookstores takes place in Buenos Aires; for two days, Corrientes Av. becomes a huge public living-room with sofas and chairs on the street, so the visitors can buy their favorite books and read them on the street.

La Noche de las Librerías (Night of Bookstores)
La Noche de las Librerías (Night of Bookstores)
Av. Corrientes 1900, C1025AAG CABA, Argentina

Once you step into any bookstore here, you will see a lot of people around reading books or exploring endless piles of literature, looking for deals or unique pieces- sometimes it is possible to get both though. You will find exclusive editions of uncommon and difficult to find books for just 200 Argentine pesos (4 euros) or less.

In these valuable stores, you will find books about a range of topics, in different languages (mainly in Spanish), first editions, sold-out editions and a lot of different picks. My advice: The most precious gems are usually in unexpected nooks and covered in dust, so if you are a real bookaholic, browsing these markets will be a truly (and cheap) treasure hunt.

 © Istock/ joegolby
© Istock/ joegolby

The following are some picks from the more than 20 bookstores that can be found in Corrientes Av.:  

1) "Edipo" (1686 Corrientes Av.), where it is also possible to acquire local books before they are officially released in stores.

2) "Lorraine" (1513 Corrientes Av.), which is specialised in books for children and educational books.

3) "Losada" (1551 Corrientes Av.),  has a big showroom where you can get lost for many hours. 

 4) "Dickens" (1375 Corrientes Av.), offers a variety of topics and good deals that are updated every week.

So whether you are passionate about books or look for a specific version of a book with a foreword written by that novelist you love, exploring Corrientes' bookstores' court is a must when visiting Buenos Aires. And please do not forget to approach a shop assistant, most of them are real scholars! If you are lucky, you will discover an emphatic bohemian literary full of stories and positive vibes.


The author

nicolas grafia

nicolas grafia

I was born and raised in Argentina, and I love its places and people! On itinari, I strive to take you to an amazing virtual trip to the most beautiful regions in my country. My personal goal is to deliver some of the local vibes while inspiring readers to discover the places I feature.

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