The magic of one day booksellers and small bookstores

This year’s Little Bookstores Week, which takes place all over Greece ( from 27/5 to 1/6), culminates with the “Bookseller and Bookseller for a Day” promotion.

In the small Mihistoria bookstore in East Thessaloniki, two of his dear friends, scholars Miltiadis Polyviou and Phaidon Hatziantoniou, who have an important public presence and research in our cultural heritage, shared their love of books with readers, friends and spoke to Athena. – Macedonian News Agency about the magic of small bookstores, about the joy of being together, talking, participating, listening, knowing. They talked about the value of synthesis, inclusion, consensus, exchange of ideas.

“Today I do something … more than what I do almost every day, my existence takes on another dimension. For me, this bookstore is an element of everyday life, a point of reference. It is a neighborhood,” Miltiadis Polyviou, architect, Byzantine Archeology and A graduate student in philosophy and a PhD student at the NTUA Faculty of Architecture says.

“Big bookstores are impersonal, they can do very well in terms of book sales and breadth of titles, but they don’t have the warmth of a neighborhood. Here, everything works on a personal level, you get to know each other, have a dialogue, talk about the book beyond its commodity status. “Mithistoria” is not only a “pole” of culture – there is a Reading Club, etc. is located – it is also a pole of closeness and collective action.

Any collective, this is our place, making contracts and relationships for the trees and their health, the animals in the neighborhood, the sanctuary across the street,” he adds. He remembers, as he notes, “an old bookshop, a special bookshop, that didn’t last long” in Chrysostom, Smyrna, owned by the poet Manolis Anagnostakis along with some others.

“Many writers turn to him as soon as he arrives at the Siropoulos brothers’ bookstore.” What would Miltiadis Polyviou, a bibliophile and publisher of books on church architecture, suggest we read? I have given away many copies of Emmanuel Roydis’ “The Psychology of the Syrian Husband,” he notes.

G. Skabardonis “Small bookstores are like “progressive bibliophile posts””

The famous writer Giorgos Skabardonis completes the lunch “company” at the “Mithistoria” bookstore. “Small bookstores are scattered in the districts and they talk directly with the local population. I think that these “small nuclei” scattered in the regions play a very important role, they are like “advanced outposts of bibliophilia”, the author emphasizes. “We need to help these stores so that they don’t just live on stationery and bags. It’s a company, a place for meetings, mutual inspiration, collegiality, conversation, beautiful things!”, comments Giorgos Skabardonis.

The second “bookseller for a day” is Phaidon Hatjiantoniou, an architect-renovator. Since 1983, he has been working on projects for the recovery and restoration of Mount Athos, while also curating related exhibitions. He claims to be “crazy” about books. As for “Fiction”, “once you come, you will be stuck. You have a personal relationship with the people selling the book.

A giant bookstore in New York had everything, and what didn’t? personal relationship. I usually find an excuse to come and order a book. I come almost every day, it’s a nice neighborhood led by the owners of the bookstore, the cafe next door. The human dimension, connection, and communication prevail here,” Phaidon Hadjiantoniou notes.

In the era of e-store, audiobooks, small corners of books succeed and resist. “We persevere and I see new small neighborhood bookstores opening up as well. Readers choose literature and history first. “Also, self-help and self-improvement books are a lively area of ​​interest,” comments Stella Moschou and Gina Arhonta, owners of Mithistoria. Sales skyrocketed during the pandemic – they describe how they rushed to distribute the books – but after that adventure ended, as they note, there is an increase in the number of readers.

With the enthusiastic words of a fanatical friend, we say goodbye to Small Bookstore Week. “It’s been 30 years since this bookshop, we love the place and what it has given us so much that we support the owners and hope they will continue to be with us. It’s a lovely habit to search, exchange ideas and meet friends, it’s a very sweet corner”, admits Maro Michopoulou.

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