Ever wondered which city in the world has the most bookstores per capita? As it turns out, you’d have to go pretty far down south to get there. And we’re not talking about the southern United States. We’re talking about the Southern Hemisphere. That’s because Buenos Aires is the world capital of bookstores, according to the World Cities Cultural Forum. Learn more in this week’s blog!
El Ateneo bookstore in Buenos Aires.
The World Capital of Bookstores: Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires has a population of 2.8 million people, and 734 bookstores, meaning there are 25 bookstores for every 100,000 people. The next closest? Hong Kong, with 22 bookstores per 100,000 people.
So why are there so many bookstores in Buenos Aires? The answer is that Argentina has a rich literary history, which is in large part related to its economic history, according to the Associated Press.
“Culture boomed along with the economy in the early part of the 20th century, and even if the economic path grew rocky, ordinary Argentines embraced and stuck to the habit of reading.” In addition, “During the Spanish civil war in the 1930s, many top writers and editors fled to Argentina, further cementing the country as a literary capital and powerhouse for printing.”
Even now, as the Argentine economy continues to struggle, book sales continue to be strong. The reason? There’s no sales tax on books, while other items get a 21% tax!
In addition, print continues to dominate in Argentina. “Less than 10 percent of the 1.2 million people who attended the city’s annual book fair last year said they used electronic devices to read books, according to a fair survey. “
Want to learn about one of the most famous bookstores in Buenos Aires? Check out our blog on El Ateneo Grand Splendid. You can also read our blog on Famous Bookstores Worldwide, as well as the famous Venetian bookbinder Aldus Manutius, who was the inventor of the paperback! And don’t forget to check out our blog on Keeping Bookstores Relevant in the Digital Age.
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