Fundação Livraria Esperança – Madeira

Fundação Livraria Esperança - Madeira

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover and don’t judge a shop by its entrance. Down a backstreet in Funchal this unpromising doorway led to a giant of a bookshop. There were books displayed in twenty rooms across several floors. It was an Aladdin’s cave – I only wish there’d been more than a handful in English!

This book shop is special because all the books are displayed by cover, not spine. So it’s possible to easily see the front cover of every book. The shop was founded in 1886 and has been within the same family ever since. There are around seventy different literary sections covering subjects such as Economics, Childrens, History, Education etc. etc. Even if (like me) you don’t speak Portugese it’s fun to wander around spotting best-selling author names such as John Grisham and the like. And the notices by the door are in English.

For more information see the shop’s Facebook page:

Biggest Bookshop in PortugalMadeira bookshop


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  1. #1 by juliathorley on March 8, 2017 - 6:01 pm

    Amazing. Some of the shelves in Waterstones have the books face on, but I can only imagine how fab it is if the whole shop is like this. What a find.

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on March 9, 2017 - 1:58 pm

      Julia – I have a feeling that publishers pay to have their books displayed face on just like they pay to get them on the tables near the door (but I may be wrong – does anyone else know?)

      • #3 by juliathorley on March 9, 2017 - 2:05 pm

        Ooh, the devious ways of big business, Sally!

      • #4 by Esperança on August 9, 2017 - 9:20 am

        Hi… Livraria Esperança does not get paid to have books by cover. This was something that the 3rd generation owner always wanted to… have all the books displayed by cover. He had the bookstore across the road from this one(now the office) and in 1996 he bought this XVI century Madeira typical palace so he could display them like he always wanted. there are books with over 100 years and recent.. a bit of everything, but only makes money with the book sales.

        kind regards

      • #5 by Sally Jenkins on August 9, 2017 - 7:16 pm

        Thank you very much for the information. It’s great that the owner is such a book lover.

      • #6 by Esperança on August 14, 2017 - 12:42 pm

        Thank you, for letting the world know about us.

  2. #7 by Wendy Clarke on March 13, 2017 - 7:48 am

    What an amazing bookshop. I’ve never been to Madeira but little gems like this make me want to go all the more.

    • #8 by Sally Jenkins on March 13, 2017 - 12:17 pm

      That’s what I like about exploring off the beaten tourist track, Wendy – the little hidden things that you stumble upon.

  3. #9 by Janice Preston on March 13, 2017 - 10:34 am

    What a fabulous find, Sally! It’s a shame there weren’t so many books in English, but it must have saved you a mint ;-). And I suspect you’re right about publishers paying to have the books facing out in Waterstones – they certainly pay for the prestigious table top places!

    • #10 by Sally Jenkins on March 13, 2017 - 12:18 pm

      Janice – my husband was pleased there was nothing there for me to buy!

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