‘I can't believe it; it is the end of an institution,' said Tom Bauch, when he heard the news that Florence's first English-language book store, BM Bookshop, would close its doors on December 31 unless a buyer is found. A resident of San Francisco who, with his wife, spends about one month a year in Florence, Bauch was in the store, arranging to ship books back home, when he heard the news. ‘It's the passing of an era. I've been shopping here with my wife for 20 years. I always stop by when I get a coffee.'
‘I find the same thing is happening to many other retailers and artisans in the area; they're closing shop because of rising rents and other costs,' Bauch added.
This is not true, however, of BM Bookshop, explains co-owner Rossana Amoroso: ‘We are closing for personal reasons, not economic ones. My partner, Cosetta Boni, and I, can't keep up with the long hours anymore, and hiring an employee would be too costly.'
Florence's first English-language bookstore, BM Bookshop was opened in 1963 by a British resident who wanted to buy and sell books in English. The store changed with the times, offering not only a large collection of photographic books, from art and fashion to cooking and history, but also fiction in paperback and hardcover, as well as gift and home decor items, jewellery, vintage British porcelain items and more.
Amoroso says that she and Boni are willing to sell the business ‘for a low price and with a favourable rental contract.' However, a buyer must be found by December 31, 2011. Interested buyers should stop by the bookstore (Borgognissanti 4/r, Monday to Saturday, 9:30am to 7:30pm), call 055/294575 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, all merchandise is currently on sale, from 20 to 50 percent off.
Go virtual or die?
One might call Florence's independent bookshops an endangered species. A few have already closed their doors, among them Martelli, which closed in mid-September. The historic Libreria del Porcellino, which has been in piazza del Mercato Nuovo since the 1930s, will close its doors sometime soon. It will, however, continue to sell books online as the store's website (www.libreriadelporcellino.com) announces: ‘We will soon be online with an electronic catalogue.'