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It is called “Livraria Esperança” it has more than 100 years and 107 thousand books exposed by the cover. The tourists know it, the Madeira people do not know it.

Go down the hill on board a basket, see dolphins, dive in Seixal, eat bolo do caco or a freshly made passionfruit pudding, go through a levada, climb to Pico do Areeiro and get down by cable car to the Fajã dos Padres. Even a photo of Ronaldo’s bust no longer lacks this list that could have as title something like “things to do in Madeira.”

But there was one that, so unmissable, should be on the top of the page as soon as you start writing the word ‘Funchal’. But it’s not. Not even in the top 3, not even in the top 10. “There are tourists who come here only after some insistence with the taxi driver. The people here think that we no longer exist, perhaps because they confuse us with a stationery of the same name, which, yes, no longer exists “, confides one of the employees of Livraria Esperança, the one that is the most wrongly devalued point of the whole island.

It was, just and only, the first establishment in Portugal to sell only books and is currently the second largest bookstore in the world of books on display. Yes, there are no bookshelves with books here to fight for head prominence. Each piece is queen and has a cover right facing the reader.

It was the father of Cátia Câmara, the fourth generation of Esperança, who remembered that the books all deserved a prominence that other bookstores did not. But for this he needed to widen the space of the bookstore, that this of the protagonist cannot be for half a dozen square meters. It was there that the bookstore, founded in 1886, crossed the road and occupies today a whole building of the Rua dos Ferreiros, in the centre of Funchal, with three stories completely lined with books. “There was more space,” admits Cátia. It is that your father also made sure that once they got that extra space, start with a stock of 12 thousand books, with the premise of having for sale all the books published in Portugal. “This is a difficult task to keep in 2018,” says Cátia,

Even so, it’s for Esperança that publishers call when they know that a book no longer exists anywhere but in that corner of Funchal. “A few years ago, on an official visit, Jorge Sampaio came looking for a book that he could not find anywhere on the continent. And he found it here, of course, “says Cátia.

We also find a book entitled “Flesh, a food or a poison”. It could have come out this year, but it was already a topic worthy of publication in 1977.

There is still room for Dr. Oz’s “The Magic Diet,” a book that compiles Alvaro Cunhal’s drawings and one with a title “Where’s Bin Laden”, flashy for 2004, release year, but which is now worthy to move to the History section. And speaking of sections, here are the classic Romance, Art or Children, but where do you remember seeing a whole room dedicated only to the section of Yoga?

They also passed through the phase of being the faithful depository of school books of the region, which made the queues of parents go around the block. The unfair competition of large stores led to the end of this system that put the bookstore in turmoil at the height of September, giving them a chance to focus on what Cátia’s father, Jorge Figueira de Sousa, died in 2012, wanted for the bookstore: never lacked books. That is why today they remain as the only bookstore of funds of the Country, that is, whenever a book is sold, it is immediately restored until the publisher defines it as exhausted. Currently, there are 107,000 books in stock, all exposed cover with a spring that the customer can always release to browse the interior.

A family dedicated to books

Cátia Câmara is 37 years old and when her father became ill, she gave up a career in England as a manager of a chain of restaurants to dedicate to the bookstore where, practically, she only needed to be born. “I live here at the front door and it was in this space that I spent all my childhood”; account. But it did not grow with the taste of reading. “Until I was 17, I had only read the books that the school required.” Until one day he took one of thousands of Hope books and today is unable to go to sleep without reading at least one page.

A Straight Translation from Magg.pt