Bookshops around the world

Bookshops around the world

Horst A. Friedrichs – Stuart Husband: Bookstores (Prestel Verlag 2020)

Anyone who likes to read also likes bookstores. It’s true that everyone probably does most of their shopping online, which is great for getting some exclusive editions, rarities, or copies that aren’t available anywhere else, but bookstores still have their magic. Although many are fighting for their survival, they still have future if they have a special style or a bold choice of thematic and, of course, supportive customers.

In this beautiful volume, with the photos of Horst A. Friedrichs and the words of the bookstore owners, we can get a glimpse into the secrets of the ‘paper cities’. We can visit such large shops as the Strand in New York, which is the only one that has survived in the part of the city that once had 48 bookstores, or the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, which once hosted the most important writers of the Beat generation, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, or the well-known Shakespeare & Company, which was founded by the current owner’s father in memory of the former English-language bookstore, which also provided a haven for Hemingway in Paris in the 1920s.

There are also newer bookstores that have gained significant reputation for their uniqueness since their short existence, such as the Gay’s The Word in London, which is still the only LGBTQ-themed bookstore in England, or Bücherbogen in Berlin, where Karl Lagerfeld was a regular customer.

There are also places that you wouldn’t think that they appropriate to open a bookstore at, such as Word On The Water, a floating store based in London, or Baldwin’s Book Barn in Pennsylvania, which operates in an old barn, or Almenida Rato in Lisbon, which created in the old workshop of artist Ricardo Leone known for his mosaics. It was great to read the words and experiences of the owners, for whom books really mean the life.

For me, the most important message of the book was that books are not only cultural products: they embody what we are, evidence that we existed and will remain even after we are gone. We do not own them, but pass them on to those who come after us.