Claustrophobic bookstore in Helsinki (photos)


Beautiful, comforting cosy space I think you mean.


Just a small comment about the translation. Antikvariaatti doesn’t mean “antique shop”, it specifically means “antique book shop”.


BTW ale means sale in Finnish.

Nice place to meet girls, I would imagine: physical intimacy is forced on you and there’s enough material for intellectual intimacy as well. The Strand on Broadway in New York was like this, but only in the basement. I’m going back to the 80’s, it may be different now, but I can recall going down that narrow flight of stairs into an entropic underground vault loaded with books. I could spend an entire afternoon there in the winter, whether or not I encountered an intriguing someone among the books.

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My kind of bookstore.

Antikvariaatti means antique shop, but as almost all Finns use antikvariaatti or divari to mean antiquarian bookstore or used bookstore instead of antikvaarinen kirjakauppa (antiquarian bookstore).

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The recent(ish) remodel has opened up the Strand’s basement space a bit, and the staircase has been widened.

If ‘Antikvariaatti’ is used only to mean ‘old book shop’, does it still mean ‘antique store’

Good point. Antiikkikauppa or antiikkiliike are the common terms for antique store.

Thanks for clarifying. I must admit I made a bit of an assumption that “antikvariaatti” meant the same as the Swedish (and Norwegian) word “antikvariat”, as it was so similar. A few google searches showed a handful of Finnish antikvariaatti that also used the Swedish word “antikvariat”, which made me more confident in my assumption.

Anyway - in Norwegian, the dictionary definition of “antikvariat” is “book store that buys and sells old and used books, manuscripts and maps”.

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Antikvariat in Swedish means the same, “A shop selling mostly old and second hand books”.
I know, as i owned a place like this here in Vänersborg, Sweden for 17 years, Antikvariat X. To really confuse matters the curators of some kinds of museums and collectionshere are called Antiquarians.
I think the conventions of naming are the same in all parts of Scandinavia that was part of Sweden, or occupied by us Swedes after the 17th century. Finland up to 1809(Conquered by Russia.) and still having a Swedish-speaking minority, and Norway, in union with Sweden for nearly 90 years up to 1905…


Liberated from Swedish tyranny would be more accurate.

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That’s awesome. They’re not even all titles out, which makes the place mysterious and more than just claustrophobic: cozy. What if you wanna go through a stack of books? You can’t set them anywhere. Not our problem, YOUR problem. Oh, btw, there are old markka and krona bills scattered around the place in between pages as free bookmarks. Happy hunting! Hope you find what you’re looking for!

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I think I bought a book there 9 years ago as I was getting ready to come home after 4 months in Finland! Neat place (both the bookstore and Finland).

We have a local antique shop very similar to this, imagine chairs instead of books.

Clearly though, in both cases, this is the result of someone’s hoarding problem - as practically there’s no way anyone is going to buy 95% of that stuff, even if they could see it. Don’t even get me started on the fire hazard.

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There’s a place like this in Toronto which has a proud “Messiest Bookstore in Toronto” sign in the window. Hilariously it’s right next to another used bookstore that’s neat as a pin. It’s been in the same family for decades and used to be in various other locations before it moved out to the Junction area. When down on Queen Street it in the 70s it had a big gorgeous sign out front with a SF planet-scape on it. The various owners have all been pretty eccentric hoarders and I suppose that at some time one of them will move to NYC and be known as “The Finn”.


In Chicago we have a similar place. Ravenswood Used Books is simply a small store filled with books with only small concessions given to concepts of ‘organization’ and ‘being able to move around.’ If you’re ever in Lincoln Square check it out. You will never find a book if you look for it, but you will always find something you want to read.

imagine chairs instead of books.

The Horror. The Horror!


In Paris there’s a small bookstore called Un Regard Moderne run by a guy called Jacques. (It’s on rue Git-le-Coeur 5 minutes from Notre Dame, not far from Shakespeare & Co.) The shop specializes in esoterica of all descriptions, but the sheer quantity of books in such a tiny place is overwhelming. Piles stretch floor to ceiling five to six rows deep in places, and are steadily advancing. The shop has an unstable, jenga-like feel. Jacques knows his stock inside out, though, and you always leave with something new and interesting. Photos here: