Few things in life can delight a bookworm more than discovering a new bookstore. Looking at shelves stocked with titles upon titles opens a world of possibilities, and the rush of taking home a new book and opening it for the first time is indescribable.
If you’re like me, this list offers good news and bad news, because we all know how guilt-inducing it is to buy new books when there are so many yet to be opened at home. Maybe it’ll be the push you need to finish that thriller that’s been on your nightstand for a month!
With seven branches extending from 6th of October to New Cairo (but, ironically, not in Al Shorouk), Shorouk Bookstore has acquired a large and loyal fanbase since its opening due to its large variety of English and Arabic titles.
The Shorouk website includes all their latest additions, so it’s convenient if you’re looking for something specific. Plus, they deliver!
Al Maadi Used Books
Described as a book lover’s dream, Al Maadi Used Books is a sight for sore eyes with seemingly endless rows of books in several languages, all categorized by genre. The bookshop has no website, but it does announce new titles on its Facebook page. However, it’s best to go with no expectations and see which titles find their way into your hands.
The bookstore also has a system where you can show up with books and exchange them for ones equal in value (usually books in the same genre), so at least that removes that trademark bookworms’ guilt we mentioned earlier.
One of Egypt’s oldest and most popular bookstore chains, Diwan’s extensive collection is rich in terms of volume and variety, but it is most popular for always housing the latest releases. It collaborates with various publishing houses, including AUC Press, to ensure a blend of academic and non-academic titles. Interestingly, the bookstores also usually include works in at least French and German.
With nine branches across Egypt (including Gouna and the North Coast), Diwan is one of the most accessible bookstores in the country, and they also deliver books when ordered online.
Located in Maadi’s Road 9, The Bookspot is characterized by its unique collection of used books, probably because most of its used books are bought from clients and traveling expats, so the collection caters to a broad range of tastes.
The Bookspot has a delivery option, but it’s better visited in person so you can have a chance to explore new, exciting genres outside of your comfort zone.
Another famous name among reading enthusiasts, Alef Bookstore has more than 20 branches across Egypt, including Alexandria, Mansoura, Suez, and Tanta – it even has a branch in London!
The downside is that its website isn’t currently up and running, so it’s tough to browse the collection remotely, but with so many branches, it’s hard to complain.
Another hidden Maadi gem, Al Kotobgeya is a bookstore, art gallery, and cultural center at the same time. It houses a collection of Arabic, English, and French titles, and new releases are always announced on the bookstore’s Facebook page.
Created by art enthusiasts and book lovers, Al Kotobgeya embodies every book lover’s aspiration to create a cozy bookstore that inspires creativity and an exchange of ideas.
Sour El Azbakeyya
If you’re feeling explorative enough, Sour El Azbakeyya is the ideal place for you! This isn’t a formal bookshop per se, rather a collective of bookkeepers displaying books on the sidewalk in Attaba Square.
A humble neighborhood bursting with books, Sour El Azbakeyya needs an extensive, thorough visit to truly experience everything it has to offer. Unfortunately, it’s one of those places you need to visit with someone experienced so you don’t get lost, but it’s definitely an experience you’ll want to relive again and again. What distinguishes Sour El Azkakkeya from other places is that most of the books run for cheap, and it is not unusual to find vintage collections of books and classical novels which are no longer published.
Al Kotob Khan
A bookstore and publishing house, Al Kotob Khan has three branches: two in Maadi and one in Downtown Cairo. It is the ideal destination for anyone scouting their next Arabic book, as the bookstore’s Arabic publications are clearly carefully curated to offer customers plenty of options.
Al Kotob Khan also hosts several creative workshops for writers and readers alike, so it’s a great option for writers seeking some inspiration.
Located in Downtown Cairo, the Egyptian Museum and the AUC Campus in New Cairo, the AUC Bookstore is the ideal place to get your hands on all the latest publications by AUC Press, a lot of which are focused on Egyptian history and culture. They also offer a delivery option.
AUC Press publications can also be found at Diwan Bookstore in Zamalek, Aboudi Bookstore in Luxor, and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Bookshop in Alexandria.
Subscribe to the Egyptian Streets’ weekly newsletter! Catch up on the latest news, arts & culture headlines, exclusive features and more stories that matter, delivered straight to your inbox by clicking here.