I am interested in asking the following question, and would like some indication as to whether it is appropriate or not before I do. The question would be entitled something like 'Mathematical bookstores' and would ask for a list of bookstores that have a good selection of high-level mathematical books. The aim would be so that a mathematician travelling, or on holiday, can quickly check the list to see if there is a worthwhile book store that she or he could happily spend an hour browsing in.

I was inspired to ask this question by the Cambridge University Press bookshop, which I visited yesterday and where I greatly enjoyed browsing its eight shelves of mathematical books.

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    $\begingroup$ Strictly speaking, I would say it is off-topic. But, then, I for one am quite fond of bookstores, and some might share this sentiment, so that the question will survive and be successful. Thus, it might be one of those "off-topic" questions that are still alright. Only, please, make very clear you are asking about actual 'physical' bookstores and not online ones (also flag moderators for making it CW when/if asking). Also you should likely wait for additional opinions. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 10:35
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that's a good point: nobody needs to be told about Amazon. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 10:46
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    $\begingroup$ I would imagine that most university-affiliated bookstores would qualify. Besides, that list could get long very easily. In Cambridge alone Heffers also has a similarly sized collection of math books. In Beijing there are 4 or 5 with even much larger selections within walking distance of Peking U. About 15 years ago when I spent a lot of time in New York, there are at least three within two blocks of Columbia (one of which used to be Labyrinth, which is now Book Culture). I really don't think this list would be much more useful than Google Maps. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ I also went to Heffers yesterday and they have less than half as many math books as the CUP store, of which a good proportion are popular books. In fact my disappointment with Heffers was part of what prompted this question. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ My advice is to not ask this question. As quid says it's very borderline, and my gut says it'll get closed without any really good answers. Plus, because this market changes so frequently the question will lose value quickly, kinda like that question about which tablet is best for math $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ I think this is a good question. Heffers used to be very good, but not so much any more. I suspect that the reason is connected with the rise of Amazon, and applies equally to many other shops. Shops owned by publishers such as CUP have somewhat different incentives. I suspect that if you ask for bookshops in the UK with at least one book containing at least one spectral sequence, then the list would be quite short. Moreover, I suspect that you would get essentially the same list if you used a similar criterion from another area of mathematics. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 21:48
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    $\begingroup$ My opinion is "not appropriate". There is probably such a bookstore around each university, and there is little point in collecting a huge un-searchable list here. More appopriate for a forum maybe. Should I vote for closing, or wait till the end of this discussion on meta? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 11:21
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    $\begingroup$ It's really nice that you guys actually discuss big-list questions, without considering them big NO NOs. $\endgroup$
    – Ali
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


This is awkward, but: even though I asked this question, I would now like to vote for its closure or even deletion. Some of the bookstores mentioned in the answers have already closed (just in the short time since it was asked) and given the climate today more will probably close as time goes on. The truths of mathematics are forever; lists of open bookstores are not and it will be hard to maintain an accurate list. And it would be unfortunate if somebody wasted time traveling here or there and found that a 'promised' bookstore no longer existed.

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    $\begingroup$ Link to question mathoverflow.net/questions/137574/… Perhaps to historically lock it could be an option. In this way it would not be completely deleted but it would still be clear that the list is not updated. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 19:10
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    $\begingroup$ Todd has locked it. I'm a bit annoyed, since I posted an answer plugging the Barnes & Noble at 5th Avenue and 18th Street in New York City, and I can't update that answer by noting that that store has closed. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 22:27
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. Perhaps it should be deleted... $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 22:51

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