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Bookstore finds in Istanbul

March 13, 2008 |  1:24 pm

Here in this sprawling Turkish city on the Bosphorus Strait is a wide hilltop boulevard full of pedestrians and trams and lined with bright shops, both local and international. Between the fashion and the food found along this street, Istiklal Caddesi, there are also many bookstores. They sell Turkish- and English-language books, and even Turkish translations of literary classics.

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Turkey doesn't have a tradition of public libraries, so bookstores have a greater social role to fill. A wonderful example of such an oasis of erudition is Homer Kitabevi ("kitabevi" means "bookstore" in Turkish), just off Istiklal on Yeni Çarşi Cadessi, a steep, narrow street often crammed with taxis heading uphill.

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Homer's owner, Ayşen Boylu, is a former urban archeologist who opened the bookstore 13 years ago; she was working on her PhD and found a dearth of the kind of books she needed. Today, Homer is packed with smart books on history and criticism, architecture and art, literature and religion. Most popular, Boylu says, are books on archeology, history, philosophy and photography. The store's runaway hit? Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason." You can see Boylu in her store, and pics of more bookstores in Istanbul, after the jump.

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Ayşen Boylu in her store, Homer, above. Below, Homer's basement.

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More Istanbul bookstores:

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Ada, a cafe and bookstore on Istiklal Caddesi, sells mostly Turkish books.

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On a side street: a used-bookstore's outdoor display. Like many U.S. bookstores, it is has been adopted by a cat.

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Look closely: The exterior of Can, a predominately Turkish-language store, includes an illustration of a stack of books that rises three stories.

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The Robinson Crusoe store on Istiklal Caddesi sells many English-language books.

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In another bookstore, the English-language books on display include one by Benjamin Black.


Carolyn Kellogg

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