Europa Books closes after 22 years

As of September 1, Chicagoans in the market for foreign language books will have to search a little harder as a result of the temporary closing of Europa Books, a bookstore specializing in foreign language books which has made its home in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood since 1990.

In a letter to friends and customers of the store, the Europa Books staff explained that the rent at the Gold Coast location had become untenable and for that reason they had been forced to close the store for the time being. However, lovers of foreign language books can take heart in the fact that the company is actively seeking a new location in a less expensive neighborhood.

“We have a target time frame in mind to reopen between six and ten months,” director of marketing Daniel Eastman said. “We’re hoping to reopen sooner rather than later, but we have to find the right location, even if that means waiting twelve months or more.”

Europa Books, the parent company of Schoenhoff’s bookstore in Boston, is a unique presence in the Chicago area that offers a wide range of foreign language books to a wide range of customers.

“I would say that most of our customers are either students or ex-pats,” Eastman said. “But people from all walks of life patronize the store” Whether searching for books to learn a little bit of a language before a trip abroad or to welcome a new foreign language speaking in-law into the family, “people come to the store for all kinds of reasons,” Eastman said.

According to Eastman, the most popular section of the Europa store is French language books. This may have been due to the lack of competition. Europa’s selection of French language books for sale is unrivaled in the area, whereas books in certain other languages such as Spanish are more readily available from other sources in Chicago.

Eastman also points to the role of the French language in American cultural life “a lot of Americans learn French in high school or college, and it seems that people learning French tend to keep it up longer than some other languages,” Eastman said.

Although they are sad to be leaving their original location, the Europa Books team remains hopeful that the store will reopen at a less expensive location in the relatively near future.
In the meantime, customers looking for foreign language books can visit the Europa Books warehouse location in Skokie at 8124 Ridgeway Ave. which will remain open and can be visited weekdays between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Visit for more information and for updates about the search for a new location.