If you’re an avid reader, you might be tempted to fill your suitcase with books to read during your trip to Colombia. Books in Colombia are expensive, especially English books, children’s books, and imported English language magazines. Here are some ways to acquire English books in Bogota as well as magazines, while you’re away from home.
Bring your Kindle or preferred e-reader
My literary saviour while I’ve been in Colombia has been my Kindle. It’s great being able to download books and free samples to my Kindle for cheaper than it would cost to buy them in a Colombian bookstore. I can also send other reading material (such as PDFs) to my Kindle. Often, the classics are free to download, but if there’s a book you can’t find for free or that is too expensive, there are ways to download books for free online.
Find and download books for free – Libgen
I am a bit conflicted about downloading books for free, because I do think we should support the arts and writers by paying for what we read. But I also believe that people shouldn’t be restricted from reading just because they don’t have the money to buy books or don’t have access to a library. In that case, there is a way around it. Type “libgen” into Google (because the web address changes from time to time) and click through to the website. Enter the name of the author and/or the title of the book you’re looking for. If they have it, it will often be available in different formats. PDF or epub will work on tablets and smartphones and mobi is the format you need for the Kindle.
Converting a book from epub or PDF to mobi format for the Kindle
Many e-readers will recognise the epub format (my preferred ebook format). But if you need the book in a Kindle format and mobi isn’t available, you have two options. Download the PDF, and email it to your Amazon email address (which you can find in the account settings of your Amazon account). If you want to keep it in PDF format, leave the email subject blank. If you want it in mobi format, type “Convert” into the email subject, and it will appear in your Kindle library in mobi format.
If you want to download the epub format, Google “convert epub to mobi” and you’ll find a website that will do that for you. Then you email the mobi version of the book to your Amazon email address (with no subject title). Alternatively, you can connect your Kindle to your laptop using a USB cable and drag the mobi book file from your laptop to your Kindle.
Bookstores in Bogota
My favorite bookstore in Bogota is the enchanting Librería Merlin in downtown Bogota. If you’re looking for English language books in Bogota, this second-hand bookstore has a large collection on their third floor. Buying new books from national bookstores such as Librería Nacional or Panamericana is, I find, more expensive than buying from Waterstones in the UK or Barnes & Noble in the US (there are no Penguin Classics here!). There are some nice bookstores with English language sections, some with cute cafes, that are worth visiting. Here are some of my favorites:
Cra. 8a #15 – 70, Downtown
Multi-story bookstore with Spanish & international titles, plus vintage editions in a cozy ambiance.
Calle 70 #5-23, Chapinero Alto
A hip book and music store and cafe offering cultural events such as readings, book-signings and concerts in Chapinero Alto.
Librería Wilborada 1047
Calle 71 #10-47, Quinta Camacho
This is a quaint townhouse that has been converted into a bookshop. There is a specialty coffee shop within the bookstore and there are plenty of tables, chairs and sofas for those who want to sit and read quietly.
Luvina Libreria Galeria Cafe
Cra 5 #26C-06, La Macarena
This is a cute neighborhood bookstore where you can have a coffee, sit and read, and if you want, buy a book. It also has regular poetry readings (mostly in Spanish) and music recital. Occasionally there are literary and art workshops too.
You can buy English language magazines in the shop in Bogota’s El Dorado international airport. These are a bit expensive and going to the airport is a bit of a trek for most people. Again, if you don’t mind reading from a laptop or tablet screen, there are some apps that I like:
This is my favorite app, as it has a huge range of magazines across dozens of topics and in several different languages. I pay £7.99 for my subscription, but if you’d like to try it out for a couple of months for less, click on this link and you can get two months for $0.99/month. Then, if you decide to sign up for a monthly subscription after the trial, I get a month of Readly for free – yay 🙂
Issuu has a large number of magazines across a broad spectrum of topics. Many of its features are free, and it’s also a self-publishing platform, in case you wanted to experiment with producing your own magazine, or just self-publish some articles.
Where do you buy English books in Bogota? Is there one that I should definitely add to this post? Do you have a favorite reading app or device? Let me know in the comments section below!
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