Belgrade Bookshops

 

Written for expat.rs by Nicholas Comrie

Belgrade has an excellent choice of bookshops. From stores selling modern bestsellers, to antiquarian bookshops stocked with rare editions, there are numerous places to shop for books in and around the centre. For English readers there is a surprising number of shops that stock English-language publications and there is a pretty wide selection of English-language publications within each of these stores.

The best place to begin your hunt for that perfect book is the centre and Knez Mihajlova, specifically. Along and immediately off that street are a number of large bookshops with a good selection of English-language books by the usual well-regarded international authors (Marquez, Bulgakov, Yamamoto) as well as selections of art books (Taschen, Phaidon) and other general interest publications. To begin your search I would recommend three bookstores that are on or close by Knez Mihajlova:

The first is
Mamut located at the end of Knez Mihailova, from where you can walk to find the other two shops. A multi-leveled store, it has a top-floor dedicated to English-language books. There you will find an excellent selection of art, photographic and architectural books, which dominate half the floor, as well as a decent selection of fiction and non-fiction titles. The focus upon artistic publications means that if you are looking for books related to the arts, Mamut would probably be the best starting place.

The second bookstore is
Akademija, located about halfway down Knez Mihajlova by the fountain. The shop offers similar titles to those offered by Mamut, with a generous selection of books on the arts as well as other types of non-fiction and fiction. Akademija’s selection of general English-language fiction is perhaps the best in Belgrade and they also offer an excellent range of titles on specific non-fiction topics such as military history.

If you continue down Knez Mihajlova almost to the end you will come across
Plato on the right-hand side. A large part of its ground floor is dedicated to English-language titles, the emphasis being upon well-known international writers. Plato also offers an excellent selection of science fiction and fantasy titles as well as a large number of comics.

Quite apart from these three excellent bookshops there are a number of smaller stores in the centre that also stock English-language books. Drop into any of the ones that dot Knez Mihajlova and see. Most stock tourist style books and guides in English but a number also sell books by famous Serbian and former Yugoslavian authors, many of which are well worth a read. Such books are a great opportunity for foreigners to read more about the country and the region and many of these books are not easily available elsewhere. They may also stock more well-known titles but the Big Three are probably the best place to find these. There are also numerous bookshops dotted throughout Belgrade so have a look in your nearest bookstore and you may well be surprised what you find.

A couple of specialist bookshops are worthy of particular note. The first of these in
Omen, located just off Knez Mihajlova, down the steps behind Obilicev Venac. Omen specializes in fantasy, science fiction and comics and they have some quite rare second-hand books as well as titles by new authors. The second store is Apropo, located behind the Serbian National Bank, which offers you the opportunity to enjoy a coffee after you have spent your time browsing. And what could be better than buying that book and then sitting down to read it over a cup of coffee?

There are also a large number of antiquarian and second hand book dealers in Belgrade, where you might chance upon an old title. The problem with these kinds of shops is that Serbian language books dominate and the chances of finding a specific book are slim. However, if you are willing to dig around and see what might turn up, then some of the smaller book dealers might well be of interest.

As far as service in the various stores is concerned, it is generally excellent and staff are only too willing to help you find the book you are looking for. Staff speak English and can more often than not order the books that you want if they are not in stock. Prices of books are similar to standard European prices although there might be a slight mark-up in certain stores. So try out some of Belgrade’s numerous book stores and see what literary classics you can turn up.