Buying Books in Portugal

By James Cave / Published: June 2022 / Last updated: June 2022
Posted in: Living in Portugal

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Buying books, especially foreign-language books, can be a challenge in Portugal. And, if you can find the book you want, it often costs a lot more than you’re used to paying for a book. Getting used to the higher prices for books is just a part of living in Portugal, but the bigger challenge is not being able to find the book you want at all. 

All of this wasn’t such a big issue prior to Brexit. However, now that the UK has left the EU, ordering new and second-hand books in English (and other languages) is now much harder. You can still order books from the UK, of course, but customs fees and handling charges make it much more expensive. The same applies with ordering books from the US. 

English Language Books

The simplest solution to buying books in Portugal, particularly for English and other foreign-language books, is to buy a Kindle or some other form of e-reader. Yes, books are nice to hold, but having a Kindle will mean you can easily look up what you’re looking for and, in most cases, download it straight away. And, if you register the Kindle to an address in the UK or US, your English-language options will be greater and your costs lower. 

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Not convinced? Try downloading the Kindle app on your phone to see what options are available. If you’re happy, switch from reading on your phone to buying a Kindle from Amazon Spain. The Kindle Paperwhite is probably the best option for most people, but if you want to be able to easily access books in Portuguese as well, you may want something than can read EPUB files as this is the format Portuguese shops like Wook sell their ebooks in. These e-readers are more expensive and a bit more experimental than the Kindle, which is why the Kindle is typically the best option for most people. 

For paperback books, Amazon.de (Amazon Germany) and Amazon.es (Amazon Spain) are both good places to look. Amazon Spain, in particular, is a good option as it offers free shipping to Portugal if you purchase €19 or more of books. 

EBay.es is also useful as it allows you to search for books, particularly as you can select to search across the whole of the European Union. Most of the results are from booksellers in Germany, and are brand new books rather than second-hand, but it’s still a good backup option to have as well as Amazon. 

If you’re not looking for a specific book, but rather any English-language books, Facebook can also be a good place to look. 

Many Portuguese bookshops will also have an English-language section. They’re typically only a few shelves, and books will be more expensive than in the UK or US, but it’s still always worth having a look. 

Second-hand books can be hard to find in Portugal but there are a few options in Portugal. In Carvoeiro, the Algarve Book Cellar on Rua dos Pescadores is a popular option among both expats and holidaymakers. As mentioned, Facebook Marketplace can be useful, particularly if you live somewhere like the Algarve. 

Portuguese Books

Finding Portuguese books is, unsurprisingly, considerably easier in Portugal. The main bookshops are Bertrand and Fnac, as well as online bookshop, Wook, which also has plenty of titles as well. You’ll also stumble across bookstalls, often in shopping centres or outside, selling both new and second-hand Portuguese books and then there’s the annual Feira do Livro de Lisboa or Lisbon Book Fair. If you’re looking for interesting books to read in Portuguese, this is an event that’s not to be missed.

There are a few Portuguese second-hand bookshops in Portugal, particularly in larger cities like Lisbon and Porto. If you can’t find one near you, try TradeStories.pt, an online marketplace for buying and selling second-hand books. Most of the books are in Portuguese, but you’ll also find books in other languages like German, French, Spanish, and Italian as well. 

Other Languages

Finding books in languages besides English and Portuguese can be even harder. Bertrand and Wook both have sections for Spanish and French-language books, but, naturally, the selection is quite small. 

If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, the same advice applies. Other Amazon sites (e.g. Amazon Germany) are great, particularly if you’re looking for books in German, but a Kindle is definitely the easiest option.

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