Greece: Bailouts and Bookstores

As I mentioned in my earlier posting, I fell in love with Atlantis Books in Oia on the island of Santorini when I visited Greece with my mother and sister in 2011. I discovered it the way many people did – through crazy Internet rankings of the best bookstores in the world. Knowing that we were going to be visiting Oia, I surfed over to their website to check it out. At the time, Atlantis was making a desperate plea on Indiegogo to save the store from ruin. I pledged because I wanted to keep the bookstore open until I got there and because I thought one day I might take them up on the promise of a free place to stay in return for my donation. Everyone who donated had his or her name written on the ceiling in a great outward spinning spiral. I was thrilled to see mine in person.

An old friend recently visited Santorini and I directed him toward the shop. To my dismay, he reported that, although the bookstore itself is going strong, they might be losing their lease in the next year. That would be a terrible development; their location is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, I doubt that a second crowd-funded campaign will help much this time. The store is in no short supply of publicity, however. Atlantis recently released details of their upcoming 2015 Caldera Arts and Literature Festival headlined by two of my all-time favorites former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins and the always-brilliant David Sedaris. The festival runs September 11-13th, 2015. Helping the Greek economy and Atlantis Books at the same time –that’s the kind of bailout that keeps on giving.

In a matter directly related to City Books, Atlantis has its own imprint called Paravion Press that produces limited editions of short stories and poems in runs of 500 – 1000. They sell these lovely little books with airmail envelopes to send them to friends as gifts. I sent three home to myself while I was still on the island so I would have a little bit of Greece waiting for me when I returned to the States. Atlantis has a few “sister stores” around the world where the books are sold. I am hoping that City Books will be a stockist sometime before the end of 2015. These tiny books fit easily into a pocket or bag to read and reread on the go – and they remind me of lands far, far away.