One might call Florence’s bookshops an endangered species. A few have already closed their doors and others are expected to follow.
Bookstore closures are a trend not only in Florence but also in other parts of Italy, Europe and the US. The culprit is technology: rising demand for Kindles, iPads and Nooks as well as increases in online shopping sales for books. Conversely, demand for paperback books has plummeted.
The negative trend in Florence began with the closure of the historic Libreria del Porcellino, which has been in piazza del Mercato Nuovo since the 1930s. But it does continue to sell books online at: www.libreriadelporcellino.com, which is a good sign!
Another old bookshop, Libreria Martelli, opened in the 1840 and closed its doors for good in 2011. It seems the high-end speciality foods shop, Eataly, will soon occupy the space left in via Martelli in 2013.
The latest bookshop to close is Edison in piazza Repubblica. With a coffee shop, tables and armchairs, in addition to shelves and shelves of books to peruse and purchase, Edison has been a reference point for many different communities in the city: many English-speaking expatriates consider it a “home from home”, lots of study abroad students went there to study since it stayed open until midnight; and it was a great meeting place for Italian speaking Florentines who could pop in when in town for a coffee with a friend or pick up a book.
Set to close in November 2012, many in Flornece – a city with an important literary past – are against the Edison closure, realizing that it is much more than a bookshop – it is also an important social hub connecting residents from all walks of life.