For how much longer will Venice remain a city of readers? The bookshops of Venice are closing at an ever faster rate. Something needs to be done, and thankfully some people are acting on it. That’s not to say they will be successful, but I do hope so.
I myself know very little about Venice, but am fortunate enough to have got to know a whole bunch of ‘Venetian fans’ among my favourite authors. Michelle Lovric who lives in Venice for part of the year, is active in the campaign to save the city’s bookshops. Here is what she wrote on The History Girls blog the other day.
There is a facebook group you can join. Obviously. It has lots of photos from the launch of the campaign on Friday.
Above you can see a map of bookshops, and it looks to me as if the column on the left lists closed shops, the middle are those in danger and on the right those still open. Hopefully for much longer, but it sounds worrying.
It appears to be not just bad times, but as though Venice treats its shop owners a little too strictly. A large fine for one non-approved poster for a book event? That’s a bit much. If you’re already on your knees, that’s all it takes.
Suggestions for improving the situation include giving bookshops lower than market rents, which has already been done in other cities. There is the Robin Hood style suggestion that organisations and property owners who do well should come to the aid of struggling bookshops.
You can follow the UK supporters on Twitter on #VeniceCityofReaders.