The column ” The booksellers next door” will take us to discover the bookstores around Italy and beyond, which despite being in our house, we do not know and do not frequent.

I answered the question several times: What a beautiful bookstore, have you just opened? mmm, no actually it’s only 5 years.

We are used to running to chase who knows what. To click click and click again because we seem to save time, but what are we losing? Bookstores are places full of stories, but not only for the books sold, but for the people who work there and enter.
Yes, most of the stories I hear when talking to clients are opening ends of novels that could be wonderful!

The first bookseller / friend to answer the questions is Carmelo Calì of Libri & Bar Pallotta in Rome .


Here is the identikit!

Store Name : Libri & Bar Pallotta

Opening year : April 2008

Sqm.: 120

Employees : 1

Genre : Varies

Region : Lazio

City : Rome

Address : Piazzale Ponte Milvio, 22 00135 Rome

What did you do in your “previous life”?

The explorer.

When did you decide to join the crazy world of books?
After graduating in Communication Sciences, in 2007, I met Valeria, daughter of Giulio Testoni, one of the historic owners of the Pallotta Bar, by pure chance. It is thanks to their initiative that the bookshop was born and today it has become a reference point for the whole neighborhood. And to think that initially this idea was considered crazy by the inhabitants of the area, for a square that in the last twenty years has seen the rise almost exclusively of places where it is possible to eat and drink. At that time I was looking for work, I had interviewed for a well-known banking group in the recruitment phase. I had had the opportunity to go to work in a bank. But then the meeting with Valeria put everything into question and we embraced this challenge together!

What’s the question customers should never ask you?
It often happens that customers ask us for a ” discount ” on the book. I often find myself explaining what the profit margin is for a bookstore. Ridiculous very often. I find myself having to justify the impossibility of making discounts. Yet it happens the customer who asks you: How long does he wear it for me? Here, the irreverence in asking for a discount on a book bothers me.

And what is the thing that pleases you most they tell you?
For a couple of years our bookshop has, by choice, renounced distribution . We work directly with many publishing houses. We prefer small and medium-sized publishing, that is, those who still carry out the real work of Publisher and who too often do not receive the right recognition in the large chain bookstores. We offer a different offer and our customers, a little confused at first, are now happy to read something different. Not to have the book in the subway that they find being read in their hands. It almost becomes a distinctive feature. And when they come back to thank the advice, for the fact that “if we hadn’t recommended it they would never have bought it otherwise, then yes, I’m really happy!”.

The strangest request that was made of you?
One night, a couple of girls came in to buy a gift for a friend who had graduated from college. When I asked for some clues to guide me in my choice, they replied: she is blonde, blue eyes, very pretty …

The first book you read?
Although I was the son of a literature teacher, I didn’t read very much as a child. I preferred to play football and homework was already something that took away my time on the clay court. The first book I remember reading was “ Marcovaldo ” by Italo Calvino . One of my favorite writers.

I know it’s difficult, but if I asked you for a podium, what would be the 3 books you would tell me?
I really don’t like it, but I will tell you 3 books that I particularly liked in recent years and that for different reasons have become unforgettable. I will avoid the classics and the foul names.

If you could submit a request to those in charge of supporting and helping libraries, what would you ask?
From experience I tell you that the strength, the ideas, the desire must be found in the library with those who work there. The real strength is passion and enthusiasm. We invented everything here at Pallotta with Carla, the other bookseller who is a force of nature. We started recommending books in the dark, we organized wine and book tastings, to get to Libri a Mollo , the summer festival of Ponte Milvio born for fun and became a fantastic reality. We do not want help from anyone, because much does not come. We only ask to be able to carry out a cultural project. I wish it were all easier. The help could be that, to stimulate the imagination of bookstores that want to create culture in various ways and to support them above all by advertising their initiatives which is what is missing and that often small businesses cannot afford not having a press office capable of making know their initiatives to a wider audience than that which can be reached through social networks.
Then of course, always starting from the bottom, in ordinary work, it would take a greater direct involvement between libraries and publishers. This could lead to an advantage for everyone. Publishers would have real interlocutors, the booksellers, who are those who then work in contact with the readers. And the booksellers would be more responsible in the choice, in the personalization of the library, and would have a higher profit margin. In this regard, I suggest you take a look at the “Satellite books” project conceived by Fabio Mendolicchio and Maurizio Zicoschi, not by chance a publisher and a bookseller!


What book are you reading at the moment?
Carne Viva – Merritt Tierce – BigSur (an unpublished novel that I recommend you book and read as soon as it is available in bookstores)

Which book would you recommend instead?
Traveling against the traffic by Zadoorian Michael, published by Marcos y Marcos.

Digital book, true enemy of the paper book?
I do not believe. I think that digital in some cases can encourage the approach to reading by many who were totally distant from it. The fact of being able to have a digital, comfortable, cheap and simple support has brought many people closer to a cultural product that is often considered an accessory good, for which to spend little or nothing. In doing so, however, it can be addictive! And maybe let some of them enter the bookstore to choose a paper one! But I have never thought of buying a digital player … I leave it to others.

Is there a bookseller next door that you recommend I contact?
I stay in my city, Rome and I recommend that you contact Claudio Madau who has launched a beautiful challenge in another neighborhood. The bookshop is Hop & Book where you can find craft beers, vinyls and, of course, books.

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