|(Photos by your humble blogkeeper)|
t's called Livraria Bertrand
, it's on the Rua Garrett in Lisbon, and it was founded in 1732.
It's now the flagship store of a chain, and the Lisbon Earthquake
of 1755 destroyed its original home, but Bertrand has been operating at its current location in the Chiado neighborhood since 1773.
The staff is helpful, the selection looked good, and books in translation are available at more affordable prices than I've seen in other cities. I bought an English translation of O Crime do Padre Amaro
by the nineteenth-century Portuguese novelist Eça de Queirós
, but Bertrand has not stayed in business for 279 years by shunning the latest trends (above right).
The shop came in especially handy because I've discovered that taking a Kindle on vacation sucks. The difficulty of flipping back and forth in a Kindleized guidebook is a nuisance, but the real drawback is the alienating experience. You're sipping a coffee at a miradoura
on a gorgeous November day, surrounded by locals, visitors, attractive, scholarly middle-aged women (OK, there was only one), and you're pecking away at a goddamn machine? A Kindle is better than a book on paper the same way a waterfront warehouse is better than the Parthenon: It holds more stuff.
On my way from Bertrand, I saw a bookbinder at work in a storefront shop and, with his kind permission, I took a picture of him. A scene like this makes me want to reenact the first verse of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," throwing my Kindle from a rooftop instead of a watch to cast my vote for eternity outside of time. Except, as happened to the best minds of Ginsberg's generation, Kindles would probably rain on my head for the next decade.
Finally, here's an example of an architectural style I'll call Stripped-Down Gothic thanks to the 1755 earthquake.
© Peter Rozovsky 2011
Labels: bookstores, images, Lisbon, Livraria Bertrand, Portugal, what I did on my vacation, world's oldest bookstore