Friday 21 March 2014

Bookshops of Málaga City Central

This is my 150th published post. How fitting that it is on the written word, in book-form mind!

Having spent quite some time researching the existence and locations of some fifteen or sixteen bookshops (bookstores) known as librerías in Spanish in the casco (old town) of Málaga city centre and just outside the centre around the edificios El Corte Inglés, it was with a certain degree of horror that I realised I had left all my notes, itinerary, route and map on the coffee-table. Still, I retained some of the information in my head, having visited the city centre on many occasions over the past twelve years.

[Image description: all my new books]

My original intention had been to start off with a cup of coffee in Plaza de la Merced before visiting Librería Rayuela Idiomas at No. 17. However to reach my destination I passed Librería Renacer at No. 45 in Calle Granada. My eyes were immediately drawn to an image of The Little Prince on La existencia abierta: Para lectores de El Principito by Rafael Tomás Caldera. Once inside, it seemed to me that this particular bookshop may be politely termed devotional as religious tomes appear to dominate the shelves. The service was slightly odd with the young assistant looking petrified, though the elder chap helpfully recommended my selection of an English-Spanish Bible. However, even he ignored me once money had been handed over. No salutations on entering or leaving then. This was the only bookshop I visited that did not have either paper-bags or plastic-bags printed up with logos.

[Image description: shop façade and signage]

[Image description: books & bag]

My next stop, still before my first coffee, was unexpected as it neither appears on google-maps nor on my google search. Off Calle Granada is the ultra-modern Plaza de la Judaría. Here I found a book-seller dedicated solely to children's literature. Li-Bri-Tos was established in 1984 and was by far the best laid-out and accessible shop I visited. Each selection is individually wrapped and then the shopkeeper uses calligraphy to inscribe the recipient's name on a plain paper-bag. Lovely, personal touch!

[Image description: shop façade]

[Image description: book & individualised bag]

Finally I got my cuppa from a friendly café-bar in the square. Before settling down for a few minutes rest, I had already taken note of Librería Rayuela Idioma's location. I was initially ignored on entering despite there being no other customers in the store. However, my "Buenos días" was returned. Once I made a selection, the cashier became much friendlier and did point out that La Cochera on Calle Madre de Dios was no longer there; so that did save me a fruitless walk.

[Image description: shop façade and signage]

[Image description: book, bookmark & bag]

From that point my plans went to pot. Málaga's film festival was in full swing and roads were blocked hither and thither, if not by police, by TV crews, etc. I got very lost and went way off course. After asking an elderly gentleman with a kind demeanour I was placed back on track.

My next stop was Mapas Y Compañía on Calle de la Compañía 33. This store was by far the most idiosyncratic of those shops visited. If for no other reason, the bibliophile will be taken on a fantastical journey. And the staff on the whole were friendly, but distrait, distracted and peculiar. An experience, to be sure!

[Image description: shop façade and signage]

[Image description: books & bag]

Next I paid visits to a couple of second-hand book repositories, Librería Abadía and then Codice. The former can be found on Calle Comedias and the latter on Calle Cárcer.

[Image descriptions: shop façades and signage]

On Calle Nosquera, No. 10, I finally found a comic-book shop. Entering En Portada Comics was just like slipping into a scene from Big Bang Theory - nerds, geeks and other social misfits milling, searching, discussing and some even making merry. I finally succeeded in getting hold of Daniel Mainé's Beartoncity novels, which proved totally unobtainable in the UK. That put a spring in my step. I also managed to source my favourite Tintin novel, King Ottakar's Sceptre, in Spanish. Another smile on my face! The service was the best I received anywhere, with the assistant doing his very best to find what I wanted and even ordering what he did not have. Bless him!

[Image description: shop façade and signage]

[Image description: books & bag]

It was time for a cup of early afternoon tea, after which I crossed the river, walked past the El Corte Inglés (ECI) and went in search of FNAC. There is no photo of the façade as this is a department store within Centro Commercial Málaga Plaza. However, below is a snap-shot of the book & stationery department. Despite several assistants swanning around, none offered any assistance let alone letting on. This store was surprisingly the most dusty. Some of the books were just filthy. Set off several bouts of sneezing. However, I had aimed to purchase from each place I visited, so I selected a couple of gifts and went to the cash-till (check-out). Out of a rank of four, only one was being used and that had a queue. The cashier gave me an apologetic look - it certainly was not her fault!

I hobbled over the main road and entered ECI, but they were unable to sell me the book I was after, but they did offer to order it and have it there in a couple of days.

After six hours of shopping, I arrived back at my apartment shattered, aching but nonetheless pleasantly satisfied. I am a book-lover after all… %)

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