Living in London and being unable to get foreign language books, other than on Amazon, was a great dissapointment for me. My course in Comparative Literature involves a lot of international texts, which is precisely what drew me to the course, but it can be very hard to analyse stylistic features in translation. This is why I love to get all of the French authors we read in French rather than English. This approach though took a bit of research to perfect and as this blog is addressed to Language learners I thought I might be able to save someone a bit of time by posting my research on this blog. 🙂
If you are looking for books in a foreign language in London, and don’t want a library copy but one for yourself then there are a few book stores I would recomend. Having worked in Waterstone’s for a while now I wouldn’t advise anyone to order one from local branches of the chain simply because the foreign editions aren’t usually up to date in the system, so much so that when I ordered a book which should have taken 3 weeks it ended up taking 5 months to come in. Personally this wasn’t an issue for me as it was for private reading and I worked in the store, however it isn’t ideal for most people. The Picadilly store however, right next to Picadilly Circus, has very good connections with foreign book suppliars. The last person in charge of the section worked very hard to establish trade relationships with suppliars and so that would be the ideal place to look for any foreign texts. They also have a few bays of French, Spanish, German and Russian literature, among others, in store. So if you are after a classic text this would be a place to check.
The second store I cannot praise highly enough is Grant & Cutler.(http://www.grantandcutler.com/)
Really close to Oxford Circus, it is perfect for a wider selection of foreign language books. Their French, German and Arabic sections are very good and thorough, they stock most classic texts, quite a lot of very good criticism and some newer editions of books including the £2 Folio Editions of some short stories. The booksellers are also great, there is usually an expert assigned to each section, making the store perfect for anyone interested in browsing rather than looking for specific texts.
Lastly if you are after a very specific text, I would, as much as I hate saying it, recomend Amazon. They have an amazingly efficient delivery, even on foreign publications.
On this note I leave you, and best of luck to anyone reading this and looking for books in London!