Sadly I missed the more colorful second-hand bookshops (or perhaps not sadly for my pocketbook and luggage), but there were still a couple of quite nice first-run shops that I was able to check out in Reykjavik. Both were clean, well-lit, open and spacious but full of books. Obviously I would have had many more options if I read Icelandic, but there were English selections as well. (More English than any of the bookstores in my are would have Icelandic! Well, not that that’s saying much.)
It was overcast the day I visited, so I didn’t feel too bad about going inside during the summer, I’d imagine they are very welcoming during the dark winter times. Both stores also had cafes, and I imagine one could spend hours there pretty easily.
The first was Mál og Menning which means “language and culture.” In addition to books, they had an arts and crafts and school supplies section, and a variety of tourist souvenirs. There was a large section devoted to the sagas, and a very juicy looking poetry section, although I couldn’t tell for sure since I couldn’t actually read any of it. Despite the language barrier to reading, it always feels like home to wander amongst books, and, slipped from the moorings of comprehension, I was able to have perhaps more pure enjoyment of covers/book design and pictures.
I was running a bit short on time, but felt a bit of compulsion to also take at least a quick spin through the Eymundsson, since it was there. It seemed a little smaller area and possibly less selection, but still a very nice store. I read later that Eymundsson is the oldest and largest bookseller in Iceland. Also that they have a print-on-demand service on over 1000 newspaper titles from all over the world!