Help bookstores open their shutters after quarantine

Llibreries Obertes/Open Bookstores
Catalonia (Barcelona)

People will always love books. While digital media has disrupted other industries, there really is nothing like a physical book – or the romantic nostalgia, promise, wonder and knowledge that a bookstore can bring.

Sadly, today blinds and shutters are being pulled down on local bookshops all around the world. And we have no idea if they will ever be opened again, thanks to the coronavirus quarantine threatening to present a real challenge to bookstores, publishers and culture itself. 

But there is one thing that can save them, and it’s simple: collaboration.

In order to reduce the economic impact in Catalonia’s town and cities, two Barcelona-based companies have joined forces to launch Llibreries Obertes (Open Bookstores). 

Essentially a crowdfunding campaign, ‘Open Bookstores’ supports local neighbourhood bookstores by giving them payments, so they can open again once the pandemic passes. You order books from your nearest and dearest bookshops through the campaign website – which has a catalogue of around 6.500 titles and daily reading recommendations – and pick up the books once the stores have reopened. 

Ordering books during a downturn doesn’t cost readers any more than you planned to spend, but paying now gives the store cash when they need it. The stores get payments in full (half straight away), to help them meet expenses. And you get a feeling of joy for helping.

The initiative has been set up by leading Catalan publishing cooperative SOM* and digital design agency Mortensen as a nonprofit, so they won’t receive any commission or compensation. 

“Bookstores are closed. When we go out again, we want them all open.”

They started the campaign on 23 March 2020, nine days into lockdown in Spain, and just one month before St. George’s Day. Not that there is ever a good time to have a lethal pandemic sweep the globe, but the timing of the lockdown will sting the publishing industry in Catalonia massively. La Diada de Sant Jordi is a special day for literature (and romance) in Catalonia – a day of gifting books and flowers.

At the moment, the initial goal is to sell 30,875 books, which is the total number of sales that the bookstores of Catalonia will lose every day that they are closed. In the first couple of days, Llibreries Obertes sold 2,000 books and had more than 280 bookshops sign up around Catalonia, including Valencia community and the Balearic Islands. 

AtlasAction: In Barcelona? Place your book order at your local bookstore.

Written by

Lisa Goldapple, Editor in chief, Atlas of the Future (24 March 2020)


Atlas of the Future is proud to be part of SOM*.

Project leader

Joan Carles Girbes & Roser Sebastià, SOM*

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