Moravian Book Shop

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Moravian Book Shop is an independent bookstore based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1745 by the Moravian Church and lays claim to being the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the world.[1] (The Bertrand Bookstore in Lisbon, Portugal also lays to that claim, having been open since 1732.)[2] In addition to books, Moravian Book Shop also operates a deli, a gift shop, and gourmet food shop.


In 1745, Bishop Augustus Spangenberg of the Moravian Church charged Samuel Powell, an innkeeper on the South Side of Bethlehem, to open and operate a bookstore. In its early years, the store served to cater to the needs of the church, importing and selling devotional and liturgical materials for use by churchgoers, missionaries, and students.[3] Over the next century, the store was moved to several locations, including, for a time, to Philadelphia, where it existed as both a seller and printer of books.[4]

In 1871, the store was moved to a building near the Central Moravian Church on Main Street in Bethlehem. The store occupies the same space to this day, though it has expanded several times in the intervening 140 years and now fills 14,000 square feet (1,300 m2) in four buildings. The bookstore is now owned by the Ministers' Pension Fund of the Northern Province of the Moravian Church and is overseen by a board of directors which is appointed by the church.[4]


Across its four store fronts, Moravian Book Shop contains several departments. Among them are the bookstore itself, which contains 10,000-15,000 volumes and includes sizable children's, local interest, and religious sections. In addition, the store houses an independent business called The Retro Deli, a gourmet food and candy counter, a gift shop, and a Moravian-Bethlehem room, specializing in local and traditionally Moravian items.[4] The store also hosts weekly reading and discussion groups and monthly events with authors.[5]

Moravian Stars[edit]

The store specializes in the sale of hundreds of Moravian Stars, also called Advent Stars, which were first produced in 19th-century Germany.[6] The 26-point stars are produced in many styles and fabricated in various materials.[7]

External links[edit]

Official website
Photos of Moravian Book Shop


  1. ^ Discover Lehigh Valley
  2. ^
  3. ^ Clark, Kathryn Finegan,"Moravian Book Shop", Lehigh Valley Marketplace
  4. ^ a b c Kawaguchi, Karen, "Moravian Book Shop Evolves Through History", Publishers Weekly, June 28, 1999
  5. ^ Moravian Book Shop website
  6. ^ Shea, Suzanne Strempek. Sundays in America: A Yearlong Road Trip in Search of Christian Faith. Beacon Press, 2008, p. 230.
  7. ^ John-Hall, Annette, "Just Now, Bethlehem is no 'Little Town'". The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 13, 1996, p. E01.

Coordinates: 40°37′10″N 75°22′54″W / 40.6194°N 75.3818°W / 40.6194; -75.3818