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6. Another Country, Berlin, Germany
The commendably eccentric Another Country is a hub for everyone from Berlin's expat community to indie bands. The Kreuzberg institution is more of a library than a conventional bookshop; you can pay for the book, return it when you have read it, and get your money back - minus 1.50 euro. In addition to some 20,000 books, the sprawling shop-cum-club offers much-loved events, including the Tuesday-night film club, Thursday TV night and Friday dinner. In the finest tradition of leftfield bookstores, Another Country inspires and sells creative efforts, and its website features a comic and a story about the shop.

Located at Riemannstrasse 7, Another Country is open Tuesday to Friday 11 am to 8 pm and weekends from noon to 4 pm. The film and TV nights start at 8 pm; the dinner at 9 pm; visit www.anothercountry.de.

7. The Bookworm, Beijing, China
The Bookworm does everything a good bookshop should do - which is a lot more than sell books. The Beijing mothership, which has spawned branches in Suzhuo and Chengdu, has played a huge role in promoting both local and foreign literature. Not only is it one of the few places in China where you can pick up books which are banned in the country, it also has a lending library with 16,000-plus titles. The library is also the setting for a healthy program of events, from gigs to an annual literary festival. There is even a whisky bar and monthly wine club.

The Bookworm International Literary Festival takes place in Beijing, Suzhuo and Chengdu over two weeks in mid-March. See www.chinabookworm.com.

8. Selexyz Dominicanen, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Occupying a 13th-century Dominican church - which Maastricht's cyclists had appropriated for bike storage - Selexyz Dominicanen consists of a steel bookstack rising towards the heavens. Cunningly, this both leaves the nave's grandeur intact and creates 1,200 sq metres of selling space - despite the 750-sq-metre floor area. Staircases and a lift lead to the top of the three-storey stack, where you can eyeball 14th-century ceiling paintings. The altar has been superseded by a cafe, with a halo of lights hanging above a cruciform table. It is an award-winning architectural triumph and a peaceful haven for page thumbing.

Close to both Liège in Belgium and Aachen in Germany, Maastricht is connected to Amsterdam, some 220km northwest, by train.

9. Bookàbar, Rome, Italy
Just the thought of big, sexy art books makes us consider diverting our travel dollars to collecting coffee table beauties. Alright, it is rash talk; but even hardened travellers might agree when they ogle the arty tomes in Bookàbar - the perfect setting. With a curvy ceiling and long, smooth shelves, the shop's coolly contemporary, snow-white interior hordes books, catalogues, CDs, DVDs and merchandise. It looks like a space station staffed by extremely well-read astronauts. The neighbours certainly do not lower the tone, as it is part of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni exhibition centre. Bookàbar's adjoining cafe serves dishes inspired by the centre's exhibitions.

Palazzo delle Esposizioni, which normally has a few exhibitions covering various art forms, is near the junction of Via Nazionale and Via Milano.

10. Atlantis Books, Santorini, Greece
In an age when independent bookshops are being replaced by chains and websites, a gang of American and European university graduates realised the dream of opening one - on a Greek island. "We found an empty building facing the sunset, drank some whiskey and signed a lease," the website, www.atlantisbooks.org, says, though we suspect it was more of a mission than that. The shop occupies the basement of a whitewashed, cliff-top villa, which the communally minded staff also call home. The terrace overlooking the Aegean hosts cultural happenings, and inside are more cult novels and quality books than you can shake a quill at.

Santorini is to linked to Athens by Blue Star Ferries, Hellas Flying Dolphins ferries, Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines.

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