Focus on Bookshops: Kok Antiquariaat, Amsterdam

I love my local Waterstones. It’s the biggest bookshop in the North of England with three huge floors of books and a delightfully quiet cafe on the third floor. However, I still prefer browsing in second-hand bookshops. The smell is always gorgeous, (if you like musty, old paper smells) and you can’t go in there with an idea of what you’re going to buy, because you’re not going to find it. You have to just rummage around and see what you discover, and bear in mind that if it’s an Oxfam bookshop you’ll have to wade past hundreds of awful 50 Shades copies until you get to the good stuff. Can I put rummaging for used books down as a hobby?! My best haul was probably impulsively buying 10 books in the Oxfam in Chester and then enlisting my very patient other half to help me haul them back to the car.

Anyway, I digress. I thought I would do a post, albeit three months late, about a wonderful little place I discovered in Amsterdam, called Kok. (I’ll just wait here for you to stop giggling.) It occurred to me to write this post as I’m in Paris later this month and was noting down the address for Shakespeare & Co, which I am so excited for!

Kok is located pretty centrally, on Oude Hoogstraat 14-18, not too far from Dam Square and has been selling second hand and specialist books since 1946! We were drawn in because the other half and I were looking for a nice souvenir for ourselves and the apartment, preferably one that wasn’t an ashtray emblazoned with lady parts and marijuana leaves. The shop was displaying some old maps, some of which were of Amsterdam’s canals in years gone by. We went in and I couldn’t believe my luck! Shelves and rows of wonderful, dusty books. Lots of them were in Dutch, of course, but they had quite a few English classics. It was perfectly quiet and we took some time to wander the rows. It had that ideal quality of a used bookshop where some of the books clearly hadn’t been moved for a long time. There was a further floor where they kept rarer books and specialist topics, but our flight was that afternoon so we didn’t have enough time to browse for too long.


I’d definitely recommend anyone visiting Amsterdam to check it out. We didn’t buy any books in the end, just this lovely print of an old map of  Amsterdam, which we still need to find a frame for, but if we had had more time that day I would have picked up a classic to take home as a memento.