Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Bookstores of Central Bogotá

Books covers walls and tables in the Pensamiento Critico bookstore on Carrera 8A, just off of Jimenez Ave.

Another view of Pensamiento Critico, which also
has books in English, French and German. 
With the annual Feria de Libros, or Book Fair, going on in Corferias, I took a tour of some of the traditional book stores and other book venues in central Bogotá, where books are sold on streets, on street tables and on sidewalks.

The many bookstores are a surprise in a nation not known for reading. A recent survey found that Colombians read on average only 1.9 books per year - and I bet that's too high. The bookstores' very existence is sort of inspiring. That someone in Colombia's still willing to shell out out real pesos to read Voltaire and Sinclair Lewis and Upton Sinclair rather than spend time in front of the boob tube suggests there's still hope.

Unlike the book fair, you can enter these places for free, and the books are sure to be lots cheaper. And, while book festivals, with their literature and highbrow talks are great, I kind of wonder how many people attend for the literature and how many to see and be seen. I recall standing in a long line for a book fair in another country and observing that none of the other people in line were using their waiting time to read. Does that say anything?

Across the street from Pensamiento Critico, is this building full of small booksellers, who used to sell in the street (and some of whom surely still do).

The voluminous Merlin, another traditional bookstore, beside Pensamiento Critico. 

On Calle 16 between Carreras 8 and 9, around the corner from Pensamiento Critico, vendors offer books (many pirated), as well as DVD on tables in the street. 

On the sidewalk of Calle 22 and thereabouts, just off of Ave. Septima, vendors sell used books and magazines for a few thousand pesos. Every now and then I find a great classic in English.
A literally hole-in-the-wall bookstore on Ave. Septima and 22nd St.
The Knights Templars bookstore on Calle 10 a block west of Plaza Bolívar. The store, with great historical atmosphere, has lots of old books.

The Order of the Knights Templar is still around. But instead of leading crusades to the Holy Land, they're selling books in Bogotá.

Old objects in the Knights Templars bookstore. 

Books on Colombian history in the Templars bookstore. 
Maps in the Templars Bookstore. 

The National University's bookstore on Plaza las Nieves sells books published by the university. It stands out amidst the plaza's homeless, alchoholics and street vendors.

Evidently a book lover, a homeless man soaks in some knowledge by sleeping on the  windown ledge of the traditional Libreria Lerners on Ave. Jimenez. 
Inside Lerners. I was inspired to see classics like Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle' for sale. Hopefully not all who buy it are required to read it for class. 

The bright and attractive bookstore in the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cultural Center on Calle 11 has lots of works on art and culture, and even a collection of books in English on the second floor, altho they aren't cheap. The cultural center was created by the Mexican government.

Another view of Pensamiento Critico, which also
has books in English, French and German. 

Unlike many of the cafe-bookstores which have opened recently, the Luvina Café on Carrera 5 in La Macarena actually has lots of books. However, I haven't seen many people actually reading here. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours, which has La Candelaria's largest collection of books in English, French, German and Dutch for sale or exchange. 


mauricio forero l said...

Mike, one of your best. You manage to transport me back to the city that I love so much. Awesome shots!!!

Stuart Oswald said...

Any well read copies of Das Kapital, Mein Kampf or The German Ideology?

mauricio forero l said...

Stuart are such a bad, bad boy!!!

mauricio forero l said...

So whats up Miguel, is there any reason for you not making any comments????
Are you upset with me again???

Miguel said...

Thanks for your comments Mauricio, as always. i just don't have time to respond to all of them.


Stuart Oswald said...

Mauricio Forero, I nearly always reply to your comments. ;)

mauricio forero l said...

Well guys ( Miguel and Stuart ) I just hope we can keep having so much fun. :)

Stuart Oswald said...

No problem on my part.

Kaikiat Vlog said...

Yep, Bogota has so many great bookstores and I love to go on the Bogota Central bookstores, those that you mention. And on the other hand, yes, the reading rate in Colombia is unfortunately very low even in comparison with other countries of the region not to mention with Europe or USA. But many of us, Colombians, like to read and write a lot. Great blog, I love it. Greetings from Bogota.

María José Ramírez said...

Hola, estoy interesada en algunas de las fotos de la publicación, ¿son de tu autoría?
Comunícate pronto conmigo, por favor.

Miguel said...

Hola Maria,

La mayoria de las fotos, sí. ¿Cuáles te interesan? ¿Para qué las quieres usar?