A bookstore in an old haberdashery compensates for the literary orphanhood in El Retiro

Colombian Isabel Cristina Giraldo inaugurates a new space in front of the Madrid park: “I would never have done it in my country, unfortunately”

From Colombia, with a medical parent and with literature as “something that feeds the soul and that would always be with me.” In the style of his compatriot Héctor Abad Faciolince. And so many others. Well, literature in Latin America must provoke some unique outburst in front of the world, to cross over to Spain with the impetus to build a literati trench. “I would never have done this in Colombia, unfortunately,” he highlights. Isabel Cristina Giraldo (Bogotá, 1983), the architect of this recent bastion: the bookstore The Retreat of Lettersinaugurated at the start of the Fair, so that El Retiro Park will be a book festival all year round.

Well, since it closed in 2020 The Editors, one of the first cultural victims that the Covid crisis claimed, the lung of Madrid suffered from orphanhood. «I want to fight for this area because I feel that a bookstore is needed here. There are never too many bookstores. With the extremely large printed production in Spain, it is like the Titanic, that you realize that half of the people are going to die. Where are all those books going? At balance, burned… Because there are not enough places in the country to house them. “There are not enough lifeguards.”

That lack, until now, had been partially alleviated by Kirikú and La Bruja, although their specialty is only in children and youth; through La Lumbre, but already in the Pacífico blocks, and through Cuesta de Moyano and the Eugenio Trías public library, although with a different tradition and character. one was missing neighborhood bookstore, with generalist ambition, and with the luck of a mandatory shelf for Latin American authorship. And what other more ideal corner than the one on 2 Anunciación Street, premiered by Mrs. Paquita like a haberdashery in the late 1950s, according to a black and white photograph, which immortalized a former neighborhood of Niño Jesús, where today there are many gastronomic venues. «I hung it as a tribute to its owner. There is nothing more independent than a haberdashery in the 60s. It is a local business, local, neighborhood, heart, everything,” she explains with emotion about that spirit that she seeks to replicate, since she has been a resident of these streets for three and a half years.

Her partner found another suitable location in another neighborhood, but the relationship that Isabel Cristina Giraldo had already forged with the wooded landscape won out. “Retirement It is a park that I feel belongs to all of us., is very universal, the favorite of Madrid residents and tourists. And he wanted to tell them: ‘Hey, there is a bookstore that looks like that park where you feel welcome.’

The old haberdashery that occupied the premises of the current bookstore in the 50s. ASSIGNED

This is how this editor, also trained in Buenos Aires, where they boast that “there are 25 bookstores for every 100,000 inhabitants, just as here there are 25 taverns for every 100,000,” he jokes, and experienced in international book fairs – he represented Colombia in the one in Guadalajara; She worked in Frankfurt, Bogotá, in Milan’s BookCity…-. Her “need to give books a home,” even knowing the «risk, because this is an area where rents are high», rounds out a story that seduces chapter by chapter, and that begins in Moyano, at the end of 2020, when this bookstore lands in the capital, in the middle of the pandemic. «I was lucky, and I want to thank Lara Sanchez, the director of the Soy de la Cuesta Association, who hired me immediately. She said: ‘I need someone who knows about book cultural management,’ and she took me in and inserted me into the world of work, which I know she did because she wanted to help me.

He continued later on another Madrid label, Impediment, where he soaked up the deference for the bookstore chain. That is to say: “The publisher sets the price, but we respect it and sell it to bookstores, so that they are the channel through which books reach the public.” A protocol that in Spain may seem obvious, but which, besieged by sales through Amazon, is also a treasure to preserve: «Here it is frowned upon if someone commits a bad bookstore practice, but in Colombia it is like the most common », he says. Especially because they do not have the Law of the fixed price of the book, promulgated in 1975. «Here they fought a lot to get it and it protects the bookstore chains because they don’t have to compete with the price war. Not there, “There the big ones eat the little ones.” and there are those «He wakes up every day saying: ‘What price do I put on the reader?‘. It’s awful. “I really admire how people respect each other here.” And he cites among his favorite temples Cervantes and Company and Infamous Guys.

«Madrid has an impressive book hospitality»praises, and this is how he wanted to entertain at his inauguration, with the presentation of Happiness (Foam Pages), a story of Margarita García Robayo and illustrated by Powerpaola, both compatriots, which serves as the bookstore’s founding text. While this story shows “how social difference generates all types of violence,” summarizes Isabel Cristina Giraldo in her first recommendation, El Retiro de las Letras proclaims from the opposite extreme: “We all fit here” – with the final vowel drawn in cypress shape – is the motto that crowns the premises on a wall. “The more bookstores, the more democratic and open a country is,” reinforces the editor Juan Casamayor during the premiere, and adds Nuria Labari:”It is a dream and a joy of intrepid and romantic people” to open such a cosmos. “A superb imaginary,” concludes García Robayo, where “people take seriously that they are welcome,” insists the master of ceremonies. Her bookseller’s desire is like that of someone who opens any printed copy, overflowing with the future.

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