Oct 11, 2011

The main book stores in Mauritius

The relationship between books and Mauritius is a dying one. Bookstore owners keep complaining that Mauritians are not into reading and that sales are steadily declining. Of course, with competition from the Phoenix beer, horse racing, and the lotto, it is clear that it is somewhat difficult for books to compete with these important foundations of the Mauritian culture.

Note that I am talking about novel and casual reading - educational books obviously do not have this problem, proven by the fact that a primary school student's bag is often 5 times heavier than his own weight. I could also start rambling about the fact that the book stores in Mauritius are sometimes spectacularly ill-equipped and that the staff are often unable to help a prospective customer.

For example, around three months ago, I went around the main bookstores in Mauritius to purchase the legendary Heart of Darkness novel by the equally legendary Joseph Conrad, a literary classic and a must-read book for anybody into reading (Heart of Darkness was also the basis for Francis Ford Coppola's influential Apocalypse Now). None of them actually had it and many had not even heard of Joseph Conrad. The poor guy must be crying himself to sleep in his coffin every morning. However, I will leave this for another blog post. The main purpose of this article is the run-down of the main book stores in Mauritius.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
He does not like Mauritius either.


I will be only focusing on the main ones as there are technically dozens of book stores of varying sizes in Mauritius and it would be downright impossible to talk about all of them. If you wish to chime in with your own opinion about book stores I have not covered, feel free to do so in the comments section.

Le Cygne

Le Cygne is obviously the first on this list given that it is the most successful book store in Mauritius and is pretty much a staple of the Mauritian culture. I am personally a big fan of Le Cygne as it often has the books that nobody else has and often does great deals on other books Mauritians are not fan of (basically everything that does not deal with gay vampires). If you need a full collection from a single author, Le Cygne is also the single shop where you may find it.

My advice is to check out Le Cygne first if you need any book. You will probably obtain it there at a cheaper price. The only gripe I have about the Le Cygne book store is that it has a single branch in Mauritius, but it gets away with murder by being strategically located and thus impossible to miss.

Librarie Bookcourt

The Librarie Bookcourt is found in the Caudan Waterfront in Port Louis and in the Shoprite complex in Trianon. It is probably the second most popular book store in Mauritius but is let down by often excessive prices. Its selection is also sometimes surprising. As an example, when I inquired about the availability of Agatha Christie books at the Caudan Waterfront branch, they only had a few in french. I mean, who the hell wants to read Agatha Christie books in french? They do give you the possibility to order books, but these are again quite expensive and there is sometimes a long waiting period. You are much better buying these books from eBay.

Le Bookstore

Le Bookstore is a personal favorite of mine. They often look uninteresting on the outside but actually have great collections of books once you bother to go inside. They are also found all over the island with shops in Port Louis and Belle Rose. Their prices are additionally extremely affordable. They often have complete book collections and cover a vast range of popular authors. Le Bookstore is also very well organized regardless of the branch you actually visit. If the book you are desperately looking for can only be found in another branch, they will be glad to bring it to your closest branch for pickup.

Librairie Bourbon

Librairie Bourbon, located in Port Louis, is one of the oldest book shops in Mauritius. It focuses entirely on second hand books and will pretty much buy and sell any book as long as it's not too shabby and therefore readable. If you want to get rid of some books to make space for your Steve Jobs life-size statue, you can easily sell these at the Bourbon library. You will not obtain a fortune but it is still better than just throwing books away, which is officially one of the biggest crimes in the world (second to not sharing this post).

If you are into second hand books, the Librairie Bourbon book store is pretty much all you need in Mauritius. It is my opinion that you could easily find extremely rare books and collections of books for next to nothing there. Unfortunately, trying to find a particular book at the Librairie Bourbon is easier said than done as the shop is not computerized.

Antara Editions Ltee

At a first glance, The Antara Editions Ltee bookstore combines the best of both worlds as it sells new and used books. However, it does not have a very interesting collection compared to the other Mauritius book stores mentioned above. It does have the convenience of being located off the main road in Quatre Bornes, which means you can drop there for a quick look whenever you are in the region. However, if you are looking for a book that is difficult to get in Mauritius, Antara Editions should be the last book store on your list. In fact, you're better off just buying that book on eBay directly without even bothering about Antara.



As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, feel free to comment on other book stores I have not included. Moreover, 108 users have already liked the Mauritius news page on Facebook. Why haven't you joined them yet?