Inside the bookstore: La Luque
Javier Luque, bookseller at Librería Luque: «I am convinced that the paper book has a future».
At Publishnews we want to get as close as possible to those neighborhood bookstores that give us so much joy. In this case, we have gone to Córdoba to visit a bookstore that has been open for 103 years: Librería Luque, better known among the locals as ‘La Luque’. Founded by Rogelio Luque Díaz in 1919. After his execution by firing squad in 1936, his widow, Pilar Sarasola, continued the business, and eventually, his two sons, Rogelio and Antonio, joined him. Today, this bookstore is managed by the founder’s grandson, Javier Luque, with whom we had the pleasure of chatting for a while.
Do you know what motivated your grandfather to found ‘La Luque’ in 1919?
I don’t know, but we can suppose that it was his cultural restlessness, his political commitment in the broadest sense of the term, which moved him to move to the capital from his native Priego de Córdoba and inaugurate the «Librería Internacional R. Luque» at 8 Victoriano Rivera (formerly Plata) Street» on March 15, 1919, as can be read in the advertisement he published in the press, where he began his cultural project which, from almost the beginning, combines his facet as a bookseller and publisher.
What has changed after three generations?
It’s easy to think that in more than 100 years much has changed, as has Spanish society itself and the world in general, but the foundation of the bookstore remains the same: to be a channel for the dissemination of culture through books.
For you, Librería Luque has been like a second home, hasn’t it?
Yes, it has. I was born above the bookstore when it was located at 13 Gondomar Street, and during my first years, I used to go in and out through the bookstore instead of through the front door. There, in the nooks and crannies of the back room, I loved getting lost in a book and discovering other worlds.
Has it always been in the same place?
In 103 years it has gone through different locations: In 1919 he founded it on Calle de la Plata. A few years later, in 1923, it moved to larger premises just across the street, on Diego de León Street. It remained there until 1932 when it moved to the premises at 13 Gondomar Street, where the oldest people remember it. In 1936, at the beginning of the Civil War, he was shot and my grandmother, Pilar Sarasola took over the business, carrying out in 1943 a thorough remodeling of the premises, which also housed the printing press. She continued there with her two sons, Rogelio and Antonio, my father, while they opened a new establishment at 19 Cruz Conde Street, which closed in 2009, and moved to 6 Jesús y María Street, where she stayed for 13 years until 2022 when we started a new project at 11 Fray Luis de Granada Street.
What are the books that people ask for the most?
We are a generalist bookstore and we take special care of the local stock: authors and publishers of our land because it is the most demanded; by the people of Cordoba and by those from abroad when they are interested in the city, its culture, and heritage.
Besides, of course, they ask for the latest news, since we make a great effort to keep up to date with them, which they appreciate.
What is your day-to-day life like at the front of this traditional bookstore?
Contrary to the more «romantic» vision of the idyllic «working among books», the reality is that keeping up to date requires a lot of work and sacrifice, but it is amply rewarded when you see that the public recognizes it. You realize that we deal with thousands of new references that rotate every few months, in addition to the books in stock and firm, dealing with different types of customers and dozens of suppliers. All of this generates an enormous amount of warehouse and office work, not to mention the counter, e-mail, and social networks…
What changes would you like to see in ‘la Luque’?
The truth is that the new premises have looked so good that this year I did not ask the Three Wise Men for anything but to convey to «whomever it may concern» to encourage the promotion of reading in different areas, from the little ones to the elderly, and to allow us to fight on equal terms with other forms of selling through the internet so that we can continue to dedicate ourselves to what we are passionate about.
In 2019 this book house turned 100 years old, how was that celebration, did you do anything special?
In 2019 we celebrated the 10th anniversary at the new location on Jesus and Mary Street and the Centennial of the Bookstore. It was a very emotional event remembering those who have passed through the bookstore and were no longer with us and toasting to «another hundred more years of Luque».
To celebrate, we published the book «Librería Luque. One Hundred Years of Culture in Cordoba» with the collaboration of writers, historians and friends of the house, each one focusing on the historical, sociological, editorial aspect or simply contributing their particular vision of it.
Rogelio Luque: busto realizado por el escultor Enrique Moreno
Do you expect another 100 years for this bookstore?
I am convinced that the paper book has a future. It was a great invention in its day and has evolved with little change throughout history. And as long as there are books, there will be bookstores, because they are spaces that are also adapting to new realities, becoming today’s cultural centers with an activity that goes far beyond the mere sale of copies. And for our part, we will do everything we can to continue to be the gateway to that other enriching dimension to which books transport us.
Text: Luis Miguel Rojas