Anthony Frost: Bucharest’s English Bookshop

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Bucharest has had English bookshops before. There was a place called Salinger’s at the Marriott, which sold overpriced books few were interested in and eventually closed (though a tiny branch survives at the airport). There was an attempt by Libraria Noi/Sala Dalles to move into English books – at one stage they had a wide range, though, again, prices were high and the experiment was quietly dropped. Today, while most branches of Diverta have a small range of English books, they stock very little anyone would want to read (a mix of bullshit business books and awful fiction).

The brilliant and exceptional Humanitas and Carturesti apart, Romanian bookshops in general have never impressed us. Take a look at any branch of Diverta, or even the much-fabled Carturesti to see the problem: too much space, not enough books. Then go to Anthony Frost, Bucharest’s first decent English bookstore, where you can barely move for falling over piles of books. Then tell me which one looks the most like a bookshop.

Found on Calea Victoriei opposite the Cretulescu Church, Anthony Frost isn’t new, but for some reason we only discovered it a few months ago. It has since become part of our weekend routine: take the kids on a Saturday morning to choose a new Horrid Henry book while Dad blows a week’s wages on hardback history volumes he might never get around to reading.

The selection of books of all genres in English is unsurpassed in this city, and our one gripe would be that there is not perhaps enough on Romanian history. (But then you could argue there is precious little on Romanian history in English worth reading anyway).

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By the way, places like Anthony Frost are surely proof that e-readers like Kindle are doomed to never take off.

This week, instead of the planned next volume of Horrid Henry adventures, number one son quite literally stumbled upon a pile of Asterix books: a character he was until then unaware of. He sat down to read one for a bit, became an instant fan and so he walked out with an Asterix book.

That is just not going to happen while downloading a book onto a Kindle, is it?

Anthony Frost English Bookshop, Calea Victoriei 45, tel. 021 311 51 38

21 thoughts on “Anthony Frost: Bucharest’s English Bookshop

  1. You foolish luddite Turp. The Kindle does a very good job for commuters and other types of traveller. Not much use for kids, discovering new books in book shops, having on a beach, looking great on a bookshelf etc. What’s wrong with both peacefully co-existing?

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  2. There’s still a Salingers in the Baneasa mall, almost opposite Carrefour, but as you mentioned the prices are a little high, maybe £10 for a throwaway paperback.

    Back in the UK I was a chef, I asked in Anthony Frost if they could order me some cookbooks, I was told Amazon was probably a cheaper option.

    So, not only a wonderful book emporium but honest, decent staff who seem to care about their customers.

    Does Amazon deliver to Romania???, anyone got any suggestions??

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      1. I have lived in Bucarest all my life.The comunists have done many dgeaams to it,the house of the people that you saw yesterday was built in place of a lovely old part of the city that was simply torn down . But that is too long a story for a post !So , I recomend you visit the Village museum and the Cotroceni palace which is really lovely!I don’t think you will have time for some more, but the Atheneum concert hall is interesting too, and why not , maybe a classical concert one evening would be nice, too.Another nice placxe to visit would be the Mogosoaia palace , not far from the city.And as a gorgeous place to eat I would recomend the Stirbey palace which is also not far from the city.We are very glad to have you here with us in Bucarest , it is like a dream come true,and I wish you a pleasent stay and that you enjoy everyting you will do here.

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  3. Amazon do deliver but it is a pain: unless you pay to have them Fed Exed packages go to one particular post office in Pantelimon, which is one of those places that makes you think the revolution never happened.

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  4. I found Anthony Frost bookshop absolutely wonderful, staffed with helpful, attentive and certainly qualified staff, unlike other Bucharest bookshops, including the snooty Humanitas ones. The city is the cultural backwater of the European Union and this place soothes somehow that terrible feeling. It is refreshing to find on the shelves books about I just read in The New York Review of Books or the TLS. They even often have fresh copies of The London Review of Books, which is just pure elation for me. Its ethos, excellent selection of titles in such a small space also reminds me a bit of my ‘stumping grounds’ at the Foyles bookshop in London. I like to imagine it like a morsel from that institution magically transferred into the brave new land of Elena Udrea and its army of indigenous dumb followers.

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  5. It would seem that the cheapest way to ship by normal mail would be from Amazon Germany, since it is closest to Romania, correct? I guess though with courriers such as Fedex, there is one set EU fee for 1/2 pound, 1 pound etc., so buying from Amazon France wouldn’t be any more expensive than Germany. Amazon UK of course is priced in pounds and may be more expensive for some items.

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  6. @Craig: there, you see? What’s wrong with post office no 3 in Pantelimon?! I use it to bring in lots of stuff from the U.S. or China. and they never made me any problem.
    However, it works only for Romanians 😀
    Personally I’m not sure how a foreigner living in Romania can receive any package by Posta Romana. Because (1) you need to have an address where the mailman can reach you and (2) you need to show an id stating your address in Romania.
    It’s quite tricky for Romanians too because if you change your address for example you need to wait until the authorities emit a new ID card, otherwise the post office won’t release your mail… oh, and don’t expect the post office clerks to PHONE you if you have mail, it will never happen.
    By the way, how do you guys manage to bring in stuff? I guess that UPS or DHL go directly to the address stated and give you a phone call… obviously the costs involved are extremely high.

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  7. Oh, I think there is a solution…
    You tell the sender to send your package with “post-restant” recommendation.

    For example:

    Receiver’s name – Davin Ellicson
    Post-Restant Oficiul Postal 3 Bucuresti, Romania

    That means the package will arrive at post office no 3 in Pantelimon and will remain there for 30 days. You have to go there with your passport or national ID if you are a citizen of the E.U. and they will release your package. You won’t know when your package arrives unless it has a tracking number. Everything that I received from the U.S. went to Oficiul Postal 3 which is one of the two post offices in Bucharest that has a customs bureau attached.
    The other office with a customs bureau attached is Oficiul Postal 67 located on Virgiliu Street. I only received EMS packages from China at that office.

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  8. @Davin, Parmalat..again, thanks for the expertise info, much appreciated.

    Some of my Romanain friends here get round the postal problem by using the train network. Apparently a sweetener given to the guard will ensure that any package will be brought into the country and delivered to a said destination ready for pick-up, one guard even gives a courtesey call to tell you the package is ready for collection… Probably only works for Romanains though!

    Always sounded more than a little cagey to me, but if needs must.

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  9. Yes, Amazon does deliver in Romania, but with certain restrictions. (I’m talking about Iasi here.) Sometimes the books and DVDs arrive directly in your postbox. More often I have to pick them up from a post office (which is not the nearest one by any means).

    For a long time I thought that Amazon Germany would not deliver because of Romania’s reputation for tampering with parcels, but this appears not to be the case.

    You have to “play the field” with Amazon U.K., France, Germany and even Amazon U.S.A.. Some books and DVDs which one branch will not deliver you can get from another. You also have to play the field with the different suppliers to Amazon. The company still plays silly buggers with customers over certain books and DVDs which they will not deliver to Romania for unfathomable reasons.

    You probably know that Amazon has a huge office here in Iasi which seems to be concerned with distribution Europe-wide. They are presently advertising for computer whizzes. I don’t think they have any specific role with regard to deliveries to Romania, but one can always live in hope of a “knock-on” effect.

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  10. Just stopped in last weekend to say hello to the folks at Anthony Frost, which is arguably the best English bookshop in Central-Eastern Europe (Massolit in Krakow is also in the running … ) Fantastic books, friendly staff and good music as you browse. I walked out with a copy of Mihail Sebastian’s Journal 1935-1944, which I definitely would not have found on my Kindle … Love that place!

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  11. Look up Atlas shipping atlasshippingltd.com. They specialize in US to Romania shipping. You can ship from Amazon to Atlas in NY and then ship it to Romania. Atlas will contact you when your package arrives and you anpa a little more to have it delivered to your house or pick it up at their facility.

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  12. The Anthony Frost bookshop is a delight – the first thing I visit when I am back in the city. Often a coffee comes my way as I browse. I had feared for its continued existence – but the range of its titles seemed better yesterday. The music on offer certainly remains as good as ever.
    I left with 4 books – two of them (30 and 20 lei) which I would have never found in any other bookshop in Europe ( Ernest Latham’s “Timeless and Transitory – 20th century relations between Romania and the English-speaking world”; and a collection of book reviews by an Irish American critic). A rare copy of Naomi Mitchison’s wartime diaries cost me significantly less than Amazon is offering (I confess that I do regularly receive Amazon books in my mountain home near Brasov!). And I was more than happy to pay 20 euros for “The unabridged journals of Sylvia Plath” (2000) which I doubt can be found in many European bookshops..
    by the way, I did find, nearby, another (very small) English bookshop. It’s near the big Catholic Church….

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