Bookstores are often considered as boring places filled with the same thick books that no one is interested in reading. However, there are a lot of independent bookstores which have a flavor of their own. Depending on the style of the owner or the curator of the bookstore, you can experience diverse themes of those independent bookstores, and find one which perfectly suits your taste.
Location: Seongmisan-ro 29an-gil 29, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Open Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday 13:00-19:00 / Thursday, Friday, Saturday 13:00-21:00 / Closed on Mondays
Check-in Books is an independent bookstore with a theme of traveling. You can find various books related to traveling from travel essays to lightweight books which are convenient to bring on trips. According to the owner of Check-in Books, she tries to fill the bookstore with books that help to maximize the joy of a journey. Even though there are a lot of books directly related to traveling such as travel essays and travel books in Check-in Books, they also have books that are not related to traveling such as novels and cookbooks. However, the interesting part is that although those books seem unrelated to traveling, with a slight change of perspective, they are related to travel in terms of contributing to maximizing the joy of traveling. There is no need for the book to include information about a certain city to make one enjoy a trip: any kind of book can increase the satisfaction of trips if the reader is savoring the book. Furthermore, Check-in Books sells wines that can effectively illustrate the characteristics of different regions around the world. The bookstore owner says that she tries to minimize the similarity of the regions and the type of grapes used in wines to amplify the diversity of the joy people can experience through tasting various kinds of wines.
Location: Donggyo-ro 27-gil 53, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Open Hours: Monday-Saturday 12:00-20:00 / Closed on Sundays
Spring Flare is an independent bookstore with a theme of art. Spring Flare includes books about life skills that turn your everyday life into an art form. You can not only find a variety of art magazines and art books but also art utensils that go perfectly with the overall theme of the bookstore. In addition, Spring Flare exhibits a piece of art using space next to a set of bookshelves. The tiny space is quite meager, but Spring Flare makes up for their sparse art collection, by cleverly using Instagram to link to art installations elsewhere. Also, Spring Flare regularly posts inspiring quotes from various books and mentions the book title with the specific page number where the quote appears. Checking out Spring Flare’s Instagram would help you get information about diverse exhibitions, savor inspiring quotes, and be introduced with art related books. In fact, even if you are not interested in art, you can still encounter books you like because Spring Flare does not confine its book collection to art-related books. There are novels, journey books, plant-related books, picture books, and more that would make your every day into art.
DANG-IN BOOK PLANT
Location: World Cup-ro 14-gil 10-8, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Open Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00-22:00
Dang-In Book Plant is an independent bookstore run by former announcer Kim So-young. Since Kim So-young and her husband Oh Sang-jin are famous as a book lover couple, many people were interested to find out how Kim So-young would run a bookstore. She always puts out books that gave her wisdom regardless of its fame, and some of the books have a short memo of a short description of the book and why she or her husband recommends the book. Dang-In Bookplant is the headquarter of the Bookplant bookstores which has three branches in South Korea, and all of the Bookplant bookstores provide a list of the top 10 books weekly. Of course, the lists differ for each branch, but the interesting part is that some of the books in the Bookplant weekly top 10 list of books often influence the bestseller lists in bigger franchise bookstores such as Kyobo Book Centre and Youngpoong Bookstore. Dang-In Bookstore can be a representative example that shows the power of independent bookstores. Additionally, you can enjoy a book specially recommended by Kim So-young with a curation letter explaining the reason for her recommendation with a monthly book club subscription service.