Brussels indie English bookshop Sterling Books to close
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Brussels indie English bookshop Sterling Books to close

© Sterling Books

Sterling Books, the independent English-language bookshop in the centre of Brussels, is to close on February 7, the shop said on its Facebook page.

Sterling Books opened on the Rue Fossé aux Loups close to the Monnaie in 1997, at a pre-Amazon time when the only other way to buy books in English in Brussels was to shop at Waterstone’s – then still known as W.H. Smith.

Sterling’s original premises were extensive, so much so that the upper floor appeared half-empty, despite a compendious selection of books under many headings, including philosophy, graphic art, dictionaries, and a section of comics ahead of its time.

On the ground floor there was space for a children’s area to read and play, making it possible for many a parent to drop the kids off in the corner and browse the shelves at ease.

But city centre economics took their toll, and the shop had to move house, across the road on the same street, to very much smaller premises, but still stocked with taste and discretion.

Very little in the way of Jane Eyre tea-mugs or Graham Greene tote-bags, no sign of PG Tips teabags, just books from floor to ceiling. And if they didn’t stock it, the helpful and knowledgable staff would get it for you. 

“Sterling Books is my favourite English book store in Brussels, ever since I found it, it was my go to happy place,” one fan said of the many posted on Facebook.

Tragic. A great loss for Brussels. Loved your shop,” said another.

The one time I was in Brussels I visited your shop. I remember how great, warm, friendly, knowledgable and helpful the staff was,” said another.

The shop explained that the decision to close had been forced on them by the spring lockdown and the cancellation of the Antwerp Book Fair, which had introduced the shop to many people who may never have ventured to Brussels.

The store will close definitively on February 7, until which time all books are 50% off, with the exception of books on order.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times