Apt Adaptation: 10 Cool Converted Bookstores


Secondhand is one of the greenest ways to shop for books, so why shouldn’t bookstores themselves be secondhand, too? These 10 book shops around the world have made use of the most unexpected of reclaimed structures, from a stunning church in the Netherlands to a funeral home in New Orleans.

Selexyz Dominicanen Church, Netherlands



(images via: design top news)

With sleek matte black and shining steel, the rows upon rows of books at the Selexyz Dominicanen bookstore in the Netherlands look much like those at any other modern retailer. But juxtaposed against the marble arches and antique frescos of a Dominican church, they suddenly become utterly spectacular. Architects Merkx+Girod constructed a massive ‘walk-in bookcase’ that is two stories tall and yet still dwarfed by the dimensions of the church itself.

Newsstand in a Movie Theater, Texas


(image via: jackson meyers)

The historic Alabama Theater, which opened in Houston in 1939, got a new life long after shows stopped when a retailer lined the inside with bookshelves. The bookstore closed in September 2009, moving to another unit in the mall, leaving the theater with an uncertain future and possible risk of demolition.

El Ateneo Bookstore in a Theater, Argentina


(images via: wikipedia)

Imagine taking a seat in a box overlooking one of the most beautiful antique theaters in the world, not to take in an opera but to get lost in the pages of a book. El Ateneo Bookstore may be the only place in the world where you can do just that. Now a grand tourist attraction, El Ateneo attracts over a million people ever year.

Doulos Floating Bookstore on a Ship


(image via: out of town blog)

Until recently, the MV Doulos was the oldest passenger ship still sailing – built just three years after the Titanic, which of course said its goodbyes to the world long ago. The ship was used as a floating bookshop for many years, at one point holding between 3000-5000 books on the shelves with a half million more in the hold. The ship traveled around the world selling books until 2009, when it was retired.

Airstream Traveling Bookstore


(images via: poetic home)

Another bookstore travels the streets rather than the seas, distributing artist books, zines and independent publications. Projet Mobilivre, also known as the Bookmobile Project, was a 1959 Airstream converted into a a pretty little bookstore based in Quebec. Unfortunately, the bookstore made its last tour in 2008.

Manure Tank Bookstore, Wisconsin


(images via: this week in bookhunting)

Talk about creative, unexpected reuse: this castle-shaped bookstore in Wisconsin used to hold manure. Lots of it. Castle Arkady is a treasure trove of old country books, especially books printed between the 1880s and 1930s, and is located on the farm of an elderly couple that now runs the bookstore only on Saturdays during the summertime.

Looking Glass Train Car Bookstore, Oregon


(image via: darwinsbulldog)

The little red caboose of the Looking Glass Bookstore in Portland, Oregon is impossible for passersby to resist despite the presence of the much larger and world-famous Powell’s Bookstore in the same city. The caboose was repurposed into a children’s section, while the rest of the bookstore’s collection extends into a main building.

Bultman Funeral Home Borders, New Orleans


(images via: woodward design)

This Borders Bookstore in New Orleans is unlike any other, and it’s definitely got a dash of Southern Gothic flavor. The Bultman Funeral Home was converted into a Borders in 2008, with architects Woodward Design preserving the historic exterior of the building while making it look like virtually any other Borders on the inside.

Hay Castle Books, Wales


(image via: wikipedia)

Hay-on-Wye in Wales is known as the “town of books”, and it’s no wonder – not only are there an unusually high number of bookstores (over thirty in a tiny market town), but one of them is even located in a castle. Possibly the oldest Norman castle in Wales, the Hay-on-Wye castle is packed with thousands of secondhand books and is a popular destination for bibliophiles visiting Great Britain.

Cigarette Vending Machine Bookstores


(image via: psfk)

What to do with old cigarette vending machines? Turn them into cool little automated bookstores! German publisher Hamburger Automatenverlag sells a small selection of books for just 4 euros a pop – definitely a healthier offering than the machine’s former contents.