Part I: Where to buy new English books in Vienna
Finding bookstores that sell English books in Vienna is no problem. Here are a few of our favorites.
For me, there are few pleasures that surpass the simple joy of browsing a bookstore. Different colored spines with intriguing titles line the shelves. Familiar authors entice you with their latest works, almost like meeting an old friend for coffee after spending some time apart.
A treasure trove is available to anyone entering a bookstore. Innumerable worlds rest lazily on the shelves, waiting for you to discover them and to escape from life’s daily routine. You can find anything from a new perspective on contemporary life to retro high-concept sci-fi adventures.
However, if your German vocabulary is as modest as mine, then your choices are pretty much restricted to children’s literature (Christine Nöstlinger’s books are my current favorites) and most German-language bookstores in Vienna won’t be so enthralling to you. Sure, you can buy English books on Amazon, but that’s hardly a worthy substitute for an hour spent wandering the stacks.
Lucky for you, Metropole has found the best places to shop for English books in Vienna.
Our Absolute Favorites
The top shop for English books in the city is the independent and well-stocked Shakespeare & Company Booksellers. You will easily enjoy spending an hour (or two or three) browsing their inventory – books in every nook and cranny, from floor to ceiling – not just in the front room of the shop but also in the labyrinthine series of rooms and passageways in the back. Shakespeare & Company also hosts readings and events, so make sure you sign up for their newsletter.
Café Phil is an absolute delight, and they are continually expanding their English section. However, this 6th district shop isn’t just for books – everything here is for sale, even the bookshelves. So grab a good book, order a “Limonade mit extra Spaß” – a soft drink with extra fun – and you’ll “phil” sublime in the café atmosphere.
Café PhilPhoto © danielwolf.photography
Thalia on Mariahilfer Straße has a large selection of English books, as well as French, Spanish, and Italian selections. Whether on category-specific tables stacked high with best sellers and paperbacks or on the generous amount of shelving, there is surely something for everyone. Can’t find what you’re looking for? They are happy to order it for you. Though their English sections are somewhat more modest, Thalia’s branches at the Hauptbahnhof, at Wien Mitte (Landstraßer Hauptstraße), and at Westbahnhof are also open on Sundays, in case you run out of literature to read on the weekend or if you need a last-minute gift for a fellow bookworm.
Comic Books (and Graphic Novels, because there is a difference)!
For those of us who get a kick out of stories with a visual splash, there are a few comic book shops in and around the city. All of them have North American imports as well as Franco-Belgian comics. But don’t limit yourself to the familiar – reading comic books in German is an excellent way to improve your Sprachtalent.
Comics Hutterer has two locations in the city (and a third in the suburban SCS mega-mall) offering a large selection of comic books and collectibles. Their location in the 1st district, while small, stocks a curated selection and geeky gifts like Portal cake mixes for the dedicated gamer. Their convenient location in the 3rd district is packed full of amazing action comics in English. Their SCS location is harder to reach but offers more space to browse than its downtown counterparts.
Just behind the church on Mariahilfer Straße, you will find Comics Treff and its extensive collection of both German and English titles. This is the place to go If you want the latest edition of Angel Cat Bird by Margaret Atwood.
All the Rest
Many other bookstores have a small English section, as well. Most of the ones we include here are part of bigger chains, although there are a few independents thrown in for good measure.
Morawa has a couple of locations in town,but the flagship store on the Wollzeile stands apart. There is a decent English books section on the first floor and a small collection of comic books and graphic novels is housed on the ground floor.
Frick has two locations within the first district (and two other outliers) that are all well-stocked, but the shop on Graben caters to their English-speaking customers.
Kuppitsch at Schottentor offers a great selection of English books in a small space. Their smaller branch at the Altes AKH has a substantial foreign books section.
University bookshops are scattered throughout the city, like Facultas am Campus, specializing in books for language studies. While you might not find the latest English bestseller on the shelves here, you may find something more esoteric – like a book on Soviet architecture or baroque music.
What’s your specialty?
Sometimes it is easier to find what you are looking for, even in English, at a specialty book dealer.
Babette’s is the ideal spot for any hobby cook looking to broaden her culinary repertoire. Go on a treasure hunt for the English cookbooks while enjoying the aromas of the exotic spices on sale. Browsing cookbooks tend to make one water at the mouth. Luckily, Babette’s location is Hof also offers a weekday lunch menu, and the other shop on Schleifmühlgasse offers a daily soup.
Buchhandlung Walther König is a spacious, elegant shop in the MuseumsQuartier that stocks a wide variety of artbooks – from coffee table suitable Taschen editions to artist monographs to exhibition catalogues, as well as a limited stock of fiction. Most titles are in German but some English titles are scattered in throughout. You can enliven up any rainy Sunday afternoon with a museum visit followed by browsing some gorgeous picture books here.
Why buy English books in Vienna when you can borrow them?
While browsing bookstores is fun, it is a luxury. For those without the spare time to browse and the money to buy books, there is always Vienna’s Büchereien – its public libraries. The main location on the Gürtel has, I am told, a large collection of English books and the Zweigstelle – the local branches in every district – all have a few shelves or more. I am just itching to explore, but first I will need to get my library card. Stay tuned for more info in Part 2!