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The bookstore from the inside: Altamarea

The bookstore from the inside: Altamarea

The Altamarea Bookstore opened its doors on Saturday, October 23, a project that has taken years to forge, as first came the Altamarea publishing house in 2016, an idea of Giuseppe, Sara, and Alfonso.

The Altamarea bookstore is a few years behind the original project: the publishing house. In 2018, far away from the city of Chennai, the publishing house saw the light, and the first books of Altamarea, originally conceived as an imprint focused on Italian literature of the twentieth century, are published. The publishing house currently has six different collections covering different genres: 20th-century Italian narrative, essays, Sotavento (travel books and biographies), Barlovento (narrative written in Spanish), Tascabili (pamphlets, epistolary, short stories, theater, short novels), and Piccolini (illustrated children’s literature).

We spoke with Alfonso Zuriaga, one of the three partners of the bookstore and publisher of Altamarea, who answered some questions.

Where did the idea of opening this bookstore come from? What makes this bookstore a special place?

Bookstores are places of conversation, discovery, and relaxation that as readers we have always enjoyed, and as publishers, we have come to know more deeply. Today, when it is more necessary than ever to enrich the cultural fabric of the neighborhood, we have seen the opportunity and we have decided to open a bookstore that wants to reflect the spirit of Altamarea. It will offer not only fiction, essays, poetry, and children’s books, but also a careful selection of Italian authors. The idea is to become a reference point for both Spanish and Italian literature in Madrid.

Which area of the bookstore is more successful and why, and which less, and why do you think this is?

Until we open, it will be difficult to know; however, we are betting on the narrative, and we also hope to promote Italian literature.

Which genre do you think is currently at a disadvantage in your bookstore?

Theater: in the first few days we will not have as big a section as we would have liked.

If a person came in telling you they were going to spend 200 euros on books, what would your sales criteria be?

The first thing is to know what their tastes and reading expectations are. Whenever possible and whenever it makes sense, we will be happy to recommend publishers and projects that in general have less visibility but at least as high a value as other more commercially established imprints.

What five titles would you take with you to recommend on a desert island?

The Diaries by Alejandra Pizarnik; Marcovaldo by Italo Calvino; The Art of Pleasure by Goliarda Sapienza; In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust; and Delirio amoroso by Alda Merini.

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