Auditoria Tbilisi. Tbilisi bookstore. Georgia

The spacious, comfortable interior at Auditoria.

Bookstores in Tbilisi, Georgia

Published: July 2, 2024

As an avid reader and introvert, who often prefers a cozy bookstore to bars, I set out to explore three recommended ex-pat bookstores in Tbilisi. Places like Prospero’s, Auditoria, and On the Same Page all cater to Anglophone and/or Russophone readers. I found that these three stores varied widely in terms of ambience and selections, but each had its distinctive “pros.” Below, I recount my experiences in Tbilisi’s most notable foreign-language bookstores and provide some information about them – should you be interested in visiting yourself.

This resource was produced by Ella-Brooke Morgan of the University of Richmond while abroad on an SRAS-supported program.

Prospero’s Books

34, Rustaveli Ave.

Prospero’s Books is an international chain that has established itself across the Caucasus region. The Tbilisi store is located just off the central Shota Rustaveli Avenue, an easy walk from either Rustaveli or Liberty Square metro stops. When you are near 34 Shota Rustaveli, look for a patterned wall with the words “Prospero’s Books,” which leads you off the street into a gorgeous courtyard arranged with tables and shaded by trees.

Late on a weeknight, I did not encounter many other customers, but judging by the offerings of the café inside – various coffees and light treats – I can imagine that people come here to sit, sip, and browse all day long.

Inside, several tables reside between wall-to-wall bookshelves. As promised, Prospero’s offers the largest selection of English language books in Tbilisi, although it’s still a small and highly curated one. My professor got her thick and thorough-looking Beginning Georgian textbook there, as well as a copy of Hard By A Great Forest, a novel hot off the press by Canadian-Georgian author Leo Vardiashvili (written in English, the novel was still a hot seller here). Unlike a Barnes and Nobles in America, the ex-pat bookstore in Tbilisi puts attractive paperback editions of “Classics” upfront and center: The Writings of Sigmund Freud; Nabokov’s Speak, Memory, Orwell’s 1984. The bookstore assumes an intellectually curious browser.

The store also offers sections on “Regional Interest” and “Caucasus Literature.” This is includes books on languages, history, folklore, cuisine, and much more, again, all available in English.

Auditoria Tbilisi

22, Simon Janashia St.

Auditoria is nestled onto one of the fairly steep side streets that climbs up from near the Rustaveli metro station into the very trendy Vera neighborhood. Vera is full of small shops, cafes, and small apartment buildings. The presence of a youthful, recently-arrived, and Russian-speaking population in parts of Vera is highly noticeable. In the evening, after walking a up a few dimly-lit few blocks, I found Auditoria, its fluorescent lights making it near impossible to miss. As soon as I stepped through the door, I had an immediate sense of the place’s “vibe” – young, forward, and trendy. The youthful and casually hip staff all seemed to speak English.

A predominately Russian-focused space, the shop has high ceilings and a small second floor. A small bar lives under the short staircase, with fun pink mood lighting and a few tables and chairs. The store does offer a slim selection of English literature, but that is not its main priority. As I casually browsed the shelves, nearly every book I examined seemed to be in Russian – with a wide selection of fiction and non-fiction – and a number of books by Russian authors and books translated into Russian from other languages.

Even at this late hour, the space was decently occupied, which makes sense — on social media, it’s branded as a “cultural center” and “co-working space.” They also host lots of events here – including free languages classes and talks by local artists, historians, and more. You can find these advertised on their Instagram page. Aligning with my initial impressions of the store, co-working areas are primarily filled by millennials and Gen Z’ers. Nobody was bothered by my taking plenty of pictures. All and all, I would recommend this place specifically for people looking for Russian-language materials or events, and for a comfortable, cool place to hang out.

On The Same Page (OTSP)

57, Barnovi St.

The smallest and most “boutique” of the three bookstores I visited, On The Same Page Tbilisi looks like an ordinary apartment building from the outside. Walking by, you would miss it entirely, except for a chalk sign board positioned on the sidewalk at the entrance.

The inside is indeed a bookstore, but also looks like it is somebody’s home, and the owners of OTSP do a good job at filling the space with warmth. As soon as I walked in, I felt a quaint and cozy sense of bookish solitude.  Maybe that is because I arrived fairly late – around 8 pm – and other customers were already gone. Since OTSP offers wine by the glass – and armchairs and coffee tables to drink said wine – I could also imagine it as a salon, with small groups of friends enjoying a conversation among books.

After stepping up a few stairs, you’ll enter the main room. To the right, you’ll find a few chairs and a defunct fireplace, with small shelves spanning the expanse of the room. Each shelf is neatly sorted into language categories, like Russian, Georgian, English, Ukrainian, and French. From my brief time spent cataloging the inventory, the majority of novels seem to be in Russian. There wasn’t a preponderance of any type of book one could purchase. Rather, OTSP, in my view, offered a well-balanced selection of fiction, historical, and self-help reads, among other genres.

OTSP also offers occasional events, often in English or Russian, such as poetry readings, book presentations, art exhibitions, and more. You can find them advertised on their Instagram page.

I selected and purchased two English-language novels and was taken aback by the friendly demeanor of the English-speaking woman at the register. She even encouraged me to return (unfortunately, I couldn’t). My positive perception of the shop allowed me to see why it’s become so popular, especially because it offers a wine bar and coffee or tea to enhance your shopping experience.

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