I don't know about you, but I can hardly pass by a great bookshop. Ordering online is fine, bit browsing through the aisle and picking up books that catch your eye with interesting covers is something else. If they have a place for a cup of coffee, while flipping through the pages, even better.
These kind of theatre bookshops are not only wonderful treasure troves of specialized books, but also a great place to connect with likeminded people. A space, where you can meet artists or discover smaller theatres because they often hang up flyers to advertise their performances.
It is more than a bookshop, but a social hub if you want. Everything an online retailer is not. When a bookstore closes, it is also a loss for the community.
So it is time to showcase some of the bookshops specializing in theatre books (which often have a good selection of books about opera and ballet as well).
Einar & Bert in Berlin, Germany
No, not Ernie and Bert. This shop was named after two icons of the theatre world: Einar Schleef and Bertolt Brecht. This gem of a bookshop is located in Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin and you can browse and buy books about stage & costume design, acting methods, as well as puppetry or biographies. They also carry a wonderful selection of opera and dance books. Specialized magazines and e-books are available, too.
This book store has some touches of a library, the black shelves go up the the ceiling and those books can only be reached with a ladder. On the walls you find posters from the various theatres of Berlin. Sign up for the newsletter and get news about readings or book signings of various artists in the store. Also make sure, you check out the window display: Einar & Bert invites artists such as graphic designer, illustrators, directors, or photographer to display their work in a window and combine that with relevant books.
Einar & Bert Theaterbuchhandlung
Samuel French in London, New York, & Los Angeles
When a witty American entrepreneur, Samuel French, and a British playwright, Thomas Hailes Lacy, work together great things can happen – the bookshop Samuel French, for example. French already had a publishing business in the mid 1800's in New York and joined forces with Lacy soon after he met him in London. To this day, Samuel French has locations in New York and London. This shop has a very extensive catalogue of books, plays and other products and if you take theatre seriously, Samuel French should be on your list. Not only do they preserve the very rich history of theatres, but also recognize artists, activists and up and coming stars with their Samuel French Awards.
The bookshop in London moved into a space in the Royal Court Theatre, after increasing rents forced it out of is original location. The bokshop in Los Angeles is located at the famous Sunset Blvd and when you are there, you should check out the “green room” inside the shop. Here customers get together to read over scripts for example. It is a great space to collaborate.
Samuel French Theatre and Film Bookshop
7623 Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90046
Samuel French Bookshop at The Royal Court Theatre
Sloane Square Chelsea
London SW1W 8AS, UK
235 Park Ave S,
New York, NY 10003, USA
La Librairie Théâtrale in Paris, France
There is something so very wonderful about the buildings in Paris and this building is no different. Located in the 2nd arrondissement, not far away from the opera and other theatres, this shop has a wonderful collection ranging from classical theatre to vaudeville. We, especially, love the great selection of books for children. The salesmen are very competent and chances are you'll find some books here, you won't get anywhere else. It is also a great place to find out about shows and events, as theatres hang up their flyers here.
La Librairie Théâtrale
3, rue de Marivaux
75002 Paris, France
The National Theatre Bookshop in London, UK
As one of the theatre capitals in the world London has several bookshops dedicated to theatre. The bookshop in The National Theatre is sure worth a visit, while you are checking out the striking brutalist concrete architecture of the National Theatre. It overflows with books, playtexts and you can even find gifts for yourself or the theatre lover in your life, which accompanies the performances at The National Theatre very well. It is located on the ground floor and incorporates touchscreen technology.
London SE1 9PX, UK
Drama Book Shop in New York City, USA
This is a legendary shop. Located right in the heart of New York's theatre district, it has served so many actors for almost a century. You will find pretty much every script you are looking for. Sheet music is also available in this cozy place. Thanks to many events including readings and signings you have plenty of opportunity to network and to meet actors and likeminded theatre lovers. Unfortunately it was just reported in various newspapers that this iconic bookshop will relocate in early 2019, due to increasing rent. In 2016 a pipe burst here and ruined a large part of the books at the Drama Book Shop. People came together, thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda and his public campaign and turned this distaster into a success after all. Making it even more important, that we all should support local shops of any kind if possible.
Drama Book Shop
250 W 40th St #1,
New York, NY 10018, USA
International Theatre & Film Bookshop in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This bookshop has more than six thousand titles in four languages about theatre, dance, opera musical and cabaret In addition to the books, you can also browse through an extensive collection of DVDs of film adaptions, documentaries, and dance performances.
It is located in the Stadsschouwburg, which is the Municipal Theatre in Amsterdam.
International Theatre & Film Bookshop
1017 PT Amsterdam
El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires, Argentina
To be fair, El Ateneo Grand Splendid is not a theatre bookshop, but a bookshop in a theatre. And it is one of the most beautiful bookshops you will ever set foot into. Each year more than one million customers visit this theatre/bookshop. And who can blame them: It reopened as a bookshop in 2000 and many details from the old theatre are still intact: The stage, the balconies and even the red curtains.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Av. Santa Fe 1860
C1123 CABA, Argentina