Felix Simon takes us around Frankfurt’s best bookshops from four-storied book havens to left-wing enclaves. If there’s a bookshop that you think other students and academics should visit when they’re undertaking research or visiting a city for a conference, find more information about contributing after this article.
Frankfurt, Germany. Photo Credit: Carlos Torres. CC-BY-NC-SA.
To the uninitiated Frankfurt might solely seem like a city of big money, but in fact, Frankfurt boasts a strong literary scene – S. Fischer, a leading German publisher, is headquartered in the city and Frankfurt’s annual book fair is one of the largest of its kind. And wherever there’s a literary scene, there’s bound to be bookshops.
The British Book Shop (BBS) next to the stock exchange is the place to go for if you are after the latest English publications. Although just the size of a decent living room, the BBS is a box full of gems. However, what truly sets the BBS apart is its atmosphere – as soon as you have entered, you will forget that you are in Frankfurt.
While the BBS is for those whom like cosy bookshops, Frankfurt’s largest bookshop Hugendubel is the preferred choice if you want to lose yourself in a sheer endless mass of books. This four-storey shop sits within eyeshot of the Hauptwache, Frankfurt’s central underground station. Even though it is vast, Hugendubel is an inviting space thanks to its cozy leather seating and bustling in-house coffee shop.
Hugendubel. Photo Credit: Felix Simon
Other must-see bookshops are the Karl-Marx-Buchhandlung and the Autorenbuchhandlung Marx & Co. Their names give a hint to their origins. The former was founded in 1970 — amongst — others by Joschka Fischer, then a left-wing activist and later Germany’s first Green Minister for Foreign Affairs. Deeply rooted in the West-German student movement, Karl-Marx-Buchhandlung regularly supplied its customers with political literature. Nowadays it is a university bookstore, specialising in topics such as cultural studies and politics. Inside, the spirit of the student revolution still seems to permeate the air.
The Autorenbuchhandlung Marx & Co., was also founded in the 1970s, this time by writers trying to fight the mainstream market. Located in the chic West End, it is not far from the university campus. In 2001, Marx & Co. joined forces with the Karl-Marx which explains its present name. The shop has a small gallery running through the main room to make full use of the room’s height. The store has a strong focus on the social sciences and humanities and regularly hosts discussion sessions with professors and intellectuals. Students mingle with former activists, academics and the residents of the West End.
Felix Simon is a journalist and a student of Film- and Media science and English Studies at Goethe-University Frankfurt (Bachelor, sixth semester). His research interests lie on contemporary mainstream film culture, new media evolutions and journalism in the context of present media developments. He can be found on Twitter @_FelixSimon_.
Do you have a favourite bookshop? If there’s a bookshop that you think other students and academics should visit when they’re undertaking research or visiting a city for a conference, then now’s your chance to tell us all about it.
As part of a new feature on LSE Review of Books, we’re asking academics and students to recommend their favourite two or three bookshops in a particular city, with the aim of building an exciting online series for our book-loving community of readers the world over.
Bookshops could be academic, alternative, foreign language, hobby-based, secret or underground institutions, second hand outlets, or connected to a university. We’d like to cover all world regions too.
If something comes to mind, we’re looking for around 150 words per bookshop, detailing why this place is a must-see. Our editorial team can then find suitable photos and links to accompany the piece, though you’re welcome to supply these too. We only ask that you focus on just one city or region, and two or three bookshops within it.
Email us now if you’d like to contribute: firstname.lastname@example.org