I have to admit: I am a book person. I love reading. I love perusing. I love leafing through a piece. In fact, when I was home in the states, I spent quite a bit of time in bookstores and used book stores in order to bring books back to Chile.
The frustrating thing about being a book lover in Chile is the price of books. There is a special tax on books above the local sales tax which makes them insanely expensive. In fact, a book in Chile will cost almost double what an equivalent book in the states would cost– and of course people here don’t have the same amount of disposable income. Needless to say, it is not a surprise that Chile is not a reading society. Even when I was studying literature at the Catholic University (one of the best Universities in the country), most of my classmates simply had photocopies of the books (yes, copy write sticklers everywhere feel free to cringe).
However, to my surprise and delight, Argentina has not befallen the same fate as Chile. Bookstores jumped out at me everywhere in Buenos Aires, and books were at prices I could afford. The most luxurious of the stores, however, was El Ateneo: Grand Splendid! (Seen in the above photo). This old theater turned bookstore had more charm than most as it housed a cafe with live music (tango played on piano and flute during my first visit) and 4 stories of books. Although El Ateneo is a chain, I would definitely encourage anyone visiting Buenos Aires to check out the Grand Splendid on Av. Santa Fe 1860.