Bookshops in Bassano del Grappa

Wonderful display of Paulo Coelho books in window of Libreria Palazzo Roberti

Wonderful display of Paulo Coelho books in window of Libreria Palazzo Roberti

Mio browsing her favourite writer Paulo Coelho in Vicola Gamba

Mio browsing her favourite writer Paulo Coelho in Vicola Gamba

Libreria Palazzo Roberti

Libreria Palazzo Roberti

Incontrarsi, sfogliare, leggere, un piacere da riscoprire nella Libreria Palazzo Roberti.

Un ambiente accogliente, con sale di lettura, terraazza e giardino.

There are four independent bookshops in Bassano del Grappa (maybe more).

One along a narrow lane between the old wooden bridge and the river.

One next to the bridge.

One straight up from the bridge, about half way up on the left.

One up through the two squares, then carry on up through the street that leads out, about halfway up on the right.

The one in the narrow lane appears to specialise in art and philosophy. No books by Paulo Coelho.

The one by the bridge has a stunning view of the old wooden bridge out the rear window. By the window a good selection of books by Paulo Coelho.

Vicola Gamba is a lovely little coffee shop cum bookshop half way up the narrow street leading from the bridge. Wide selections of teas and fresh-crushed fruit juice. By a table at the rear a good selection of books by Paulo Coelho. The sign on the wall, a steaming tea cup on a pile of books.

Libreria Palazzo Roberti is a bookshop in a former palace where Napoleon once spent the night. It is a family owned and run business and what immediately strikes one as one wanders around is their love of books. Wonderful enticing book displays.

Libreria Palazzo Roberti puts bookshops to shame in England. Not that there are many left as between them the publishing industry and Waterstone’s seem determined to kill off the book trade. In the last few years we have lost a quarter of our independent bookshops.

A quarter of independent bookshops lost in last five years
What’s gone wrong with our bookshops?

In England one would not find a bookshop like either Libreria Palazzo Roberti or Vicola Gamba. For a town the size of Bassano del Grappa one would be lucky to find one bookshop, let alone four happily coexisting.

The reason for this lack of bookshops is that books have been turned into a commodity. A fast buck, the latest blockbuster best-seller. Books are heavily discounted to Waterstone’s but not to independent booksellers, thus not a level playing field and they are being driven out of business by blatant unfair competition.

I had a very interesting conversation with a helpful and charming lady in Libreria Palazzo Roberti. I mentioned to her that Paulo Coelho was in Bassano del Grappa and suggested they marked the occasion with a window display of his books. When I next passed by, they had a wonderful window display of Paulo Coelho books.

Waterstone’s, by contrast, has corporate determined and controlled book displays. Very depressing to visit.

Aleph by Paulo Coelho is now out in paperback in England. Waterstone’s do not have Aleph on display, either in-store or in the window. Nor did Waterstone’s have Aleph on display when it was published in hard back, September last year.

Paulo Coelho in Waterstone’s and the author the publisher forgot

The handrails on the stairs in Libreria Palazzo Roberti are attached to the walls by snakes. The top floor is a salon used for music recitals. Out the back a lovely little garden. The front of the building is impressive too.

At the weekend there was a trio playing from across the bookshop: acoustic guitar, double bass and violin.

No 1 Top Story in The Waverley Daily (Monday 26 March 2012).

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