A book town is a town or village with a large number of used book or antiquarian book stores. These stores, as well as literary festivals, attract bibliophile tourists.
Well in Belgium we have TWO book towns!
We have one in the French-speaking part, in Redu, and one in the Flemish-speaking part of Belgium, in Damme. I’ve only visited Redu myself but it was over 10 years ago so I hope to visit it again in the future.
Redu is a small historic village in the Belgian Ardennes and became a “Book Town” or a “Village du Livre” in 1984. It was a teeny tiny village of only 400 citizens who organised the first book fair in this region. Nowadays there are 24(!) bookshops in this rural town. Every year there are over 200.000 visitors from all over the world who come to this little book village, situated some 130 km from Brussels, the capital of Belgium (the closest airport however is in Charleroi).
In the Easter weekend (15-17 April) there’s the Book Festival (Fête du Livre) where you can find 40 exposants and there’s also the Night of Books in August.
One of the bookshops is De Eglantier which sells books on various subjects in Dutch, German and French. On the top floor of this shop there’s a whole English section too:
Crazy Castle offers i.a. a large selection of English and American litterature and history.
If you’re Belgian, you can even sell books to one of these bookstores in this village. There’s a contact form on the website where you can fill out the books you have and want to sell and ALL the book stores receive it and can contact you if they’re interested.
You’ll have to agree with me that having more than twenty bookshops where you can find secondhand and antiquarian books is the perfect destination for a relaxing weekend. And if you ever go there, there’s also the Euro Space Center in the vicinity so it doesn’t have to be only a bookish getaway.
So do you have a book town in your country? I’d love to hear! You don’t know? You might want to check the list I found on Wikipedia listing 40 cities/countries.