Thursday, June 25, 2015

Berlin's Shakespeare and Sons: Books and Bagels

Shelf Awareness

NPR Berlin profiled Shakespeare and Sons, an English-language bookstore on Warschauerstrasse where "walls lined with books and the smell of fresh bagels and coffee set the atmosphere." Owner Roman Kratovichla's passion for bookselling was sparked in the 1990s when he accepted a friend's invitation to spend a summer in Paris.

"So I could use his apartment but I could also do his job which was working at Shakespeare and Company, the legendary bookstore," he said. "I didn't hesitate for a minute, I went and I did that and I loved it so much that I decided that I wanted to stay longer than that and I had to persuade the old man [George Whitman] who was still the guy who started it in the '50s, to hire me and keep me on the job, which he did. So I stayed for another year."

After returning to Prague, he opened Shakespeare and Sons bookstore, but eventually he and his wife moved to Berlin. "We found a place in Prenzlauer Berg, started a bookstore and then Laurel decided she needed to start the bagels, so she experimented with it. It turned out very well. I think she sort of found she is a natural baker, despite studying physics at university."

Although Shakespeare and Sons currently has two Berlin locations, the Prenzlauer Berg shop will close after the winter holidays. "Ideally you would get both locals who are sort of open to this idea of English books and the cafe, but you need tourists as well," he said of the Warschauerstrasse store. "So this place just was so perfect because it's very light, it's very busy street, it has a history, which I always like. It's been a bookstore since they built the building in the early 1960s."

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