Wherever I go, I always find myself being drawn by tiny old-looking bookshop. Of course, gigantic bookstores like Kinokuniya or Taipei’s 7-storey high Eslite are amazing and jaw-dropping. But there’s always something romantic about a small bookshop. You can sense this personal touch, you can more or less gauge the characteristics of the owner. All the things he/she sell is a reflection of who he/she is: the title of the books, the way the bookshop is decorated, the shelving system, the items being displayed behind the window, the way he/she greets people… each and every little details convey a story.

Santorini holds two precious little bookshop I adore so much. The hidden jewel (just like what its name suggest), Atlantis Books in Oia and Books & Style in Fira—not far from the bus station (the owner of the bookshop is the one who gave me Karagkiozis wooden puppet as a gift, and I gave him a bottle of Vinsanto as a parting gift before I left).

Atlantis Books is a true hidden treasure. You could miss it easily as you walked by those colorful tiny shops in Oia’s alleyways. But I always think that I’m a bookshop owner in my past life. Books are calling me. Bookshops are my sanctuary. And that’s how I found Atlantis Books that windy afternoon, climbed down the stairs to their magical blue door, and as I stepped in, I realized: heaven must look like this.

When it comes to books and reading, I love it the traditional way. Looking at those crumpled cover, caressing the flipped pages, reading the notes written on the side of the page with a pencil, laughing at the coffee stains, smelling the damp paper—vintage books get me high! And Atlantis Books is heaven because they have these vintage collections and some classic’s first editions. True gem.

The story behind this bookshop—as appear in their official site, is even more romantic:

“In the spring of 2002, Oliver and Craig spent a week on the island of Santorini. The land inspired them and there was no bookshop, so they drank some wine and decided to open one. Oliver named it Atlantis Books and the two laughed about how their children would run it someday. In England, Tim took Craig for a walk along the Sussex coast. Craig told Tim about the bookshop and Would he like to build it. Tim said Great!

For a year the idea percolated as Craig and Oliver went about graduating from university. Around his thesis deadline Craig called Chris and talked about the bookshop. Chris said Can I come?

An email from Jenny went like this: Maria and Craig, I’m introducing you both. Maria, Craig’s going to Paris in December and thence to Santorini. Craig, Maria is from Cyprus and is English Literature & bookshop employee extraordinaire. Love you both, J.

The four boys and Maria devoted six months to saving money, finding books, settling debts, writing and reading and thinking. Tim borrowed a van named Danny. Will offered to design a website and a wave logo and said Could I come along.

New Year’s Morn, Quinn packed Danny, waved us off and we ploughed across the continent and landed in Oia. We found an empty building facing the sunset, drank some whiskey and signed a lease. We found a dog and cat, opened a bank account, applied for a business license, found some friends, built the shelves, landed a boat on the terrace and filled the place with books. Jenny came in April and painted everything blue.

Atlantis Books opened in the spring of 2004 and lived below the castle for one year. In the winter of 2005  we moved into the center of town and settled nicely into the community. We’ve had food festivals and film festivals, writers reading on the terrace, and a host of cats and dogs.

The bookshop feels like home now and we’re still laughing about how our children will run it someday. As Will says, it’s as easy as that. As you. As that.”

Books & Style is nostalgic in its own humble way. It reminds me of the little bookshops in my hometown where my parents used to take me. Apart from some lovely postcards, they have children’s corner (where I found the Greek edition of The Little Prince to complete my friend’s The-Little-Prince-book collection), wooden souvenirs, as well as recipe books. But what I love the most is the watercolour paintings and the vintage-looking tin cans/boxes. They are so beautiful!

I’m still holding on to this all-time dream: to open up a small bookshop with a small cafe inside it (and I always believe that I’ll meet my soul-mate in a bookshop!). Wish me luck!


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31 Responses

  1. Wow! I have some dreams to have some bookshop. The atlantis bookshope and book and style is the better bookshop! they have the good design and book! I like their style to offer the book. hmm… I want to go there!!!!!! 😀

    I wish we can make our dreams comes true: Have some bookshop!

  2. Going into an small bookstore is like diving into a potential time capsule. You never know what you’ll find. I love it when I see a book that’s been long lost from my memory since childhood, sitting on the shelf…

  3. I love bookstores and libraries. I always try to go into at least one them when I’m at a new place — be it a nearby town or in another country. Beautiful photographs! 🙂

  4. Oh my, this took my breath away. I hunt for bookshops with character; and these two shine through with the prettiest personalities. The way all the greatest bookshops do. Lucky you for being a part of them, at least for a little while. Lovely post!

  5. I could LIVE in this bookstore!! so many bookstores are closing in Brisbane at the moment, and I feel really bad now for buying a Kindle last year! But I’ll never stop buying actual books; I love the smell of new books, and I also love bookshops that sell second hand and new, and there is a really sweet one in Brisbane that’s tiny and narrow and crammed like this one floor to ceiling. It has a little area at the back to have tea and scones, perfect. I have a set of Billy Bookcases from Ikea that I’m gradually stocking so I can have my very own library at home……..I may just have to go to Santorini now I’ve read your post just so I can buy some from there! the photos are beautiful and really capture the place so well, I feel like I’ve just walked around that bookshop with you, thank you so much for this post.

    1. Thanks!!! That was my dream when I was a kid: to live inside a bookstore. Well, am still dreaming about it now!!! 😀 Would love to visit Brisbane one day, and we can have our bookshop hunt together! 😀

      1. It’s a deal!! there is one at West End called ‘Bent Books’ the name alone is enough to get me in there 🙂 and BTW Dreams only seem foolish when they belong to someone else……..take yours seriously, and never, ever give up on them x

  6. I totally agree with “Books are calling me”..
    and when you wrote “I’m still holding on to this all-time dream: to open up a small bookshop with a small cafe inside it” feel like someone know me better 🙂
    wish u luck with finding your soulmate..^^

  7. Once I wrote, before I turn 35 I would have my own bookstore with little cafe and discussion room. This dream goes public now as I write here. Aamiin.

  8. But there’s always something romantic about a small bookshop. You can sense this personal touch.… each and every little details convey a story. <——- Can't agree more, Han. Setuju 200% 😀

  9. Hi I love old books shops books just like you make a stop just addictive. And if they are housed in old buildings or even traces of vaults then this leaves naturally. You feel the same as any home. Your Blog has a pursuer starting today with me anymore and I will therefore from time to time and as you leave a comment on .. Greetings Evanna-Valeksa

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I am an Indonesian writer/artist/illustrator and stationery web shop owner (Cafe Analog) based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I love facilitating writing/creative workshops and retreats, especially when they are tied to self-exploration and self-expression. In Indonesian, 'beradadisini' means being here. So, here I am, documenting life—one word at a time.