Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sopa de Gato

The paper books business isn't exactly booming these days. Just ask any traditional publisher, or even here at Bogota Bike Tours, where our shelves of used paperbacks for sale or exchange seem more like a public service than a business.

Framed books on the wall. 
So, it's impressive that a group of young people have opened a new store in La Candelaria selling books - albeit collectors books which you might be more likely to place behind glass than actually read.

Their books, which are locked in wooden-framed boxes on the store's walls, are big, beautiful arts books, many from Japan with limited publishing runs.

"I like to read books, to hold them in my hands," said Diana, one of the founders of Sopa de Gato, which opened two weeks ago and is located on the old Calle 15, just above Carrera 4 and a half a block from La Jimenez.

Japanese art books. 
Certainly. But a book you can hold in your hands and get a few afternoons' entertainment out of can be got for just a few thousand pesos in a bookstore or on a downtown Bogotá sidewalk. These books, shipped from overseas, cost between fifty and eighty-thousand pesos, which means you'd be more likely to spend time admiring them from afar and admonishing guests to wash their hands and put on gloves before opening. But Diana said the books do have a real use for artists. And she and the store's other three founders should know: two are artists and the other two art students at Javeriana University.

Besides the books, this tiny store also has a mix of cultural relics, including comics, mangas and clothing - there's even a bar of antique absinthe soap and an old model Etch-a-Sketch (I didn't see Mitt Romney's fingerprints on it) on the walls. They also have film-related art and seriagraphs, some by local artists and even by the store's owners.

They also have contacts in the United States and Japan and can hunt down rare items and ship them to Bogotá.

Movie slides. 
Sopa de Gatos is somewhat unique in La Candelaria in offering serious art by local artists, rather than the abundant and inexpensive handicrafts marketed to tourists. But I wonder whether it can make it economically. After all, La Candelaria's backpacker tourists and mostly student residents don't have much buying power, and spend most of that on beer. Neither are Japanese arts books a mass-market item. A business like this one, it seems to me, needs to make itself well-known, especially to wealthy artsy types in north Bogotá.

Sopa de Gato

Tel: 314-305-1101 or 312-333-2248

A camera on a chain. 

An old Etch a Sketch. Headed to the Mitt Romney campaign?

Absinthe soap. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


mauricio forero l said...

Love the idea, But like you I wonder if it will make it. Do they have a cafe where you can have some tinto or capuchino??? this can help, I think.

Mauricio Forero.

Miguel said...

Too small to have a cafe, I'm afraid.

But they are optimistic. I hope it works out for them.