The introduced finish of the enduring Seville bookstore positioned in a theater | Culture | EUROtoday

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Carried away by a wave of consecutive closures that’s devastating the cultural panorama of Seville, Verbo, the enduring bookstore positioned in a theater, one of many only a few recognized on the planet, faces the top of 2023 with a transparent horizon: decreasing the curtain in 2024 “The closure is imminent,” says its director, José Juan Soto. Verbo has not been in a position to steer clear of the nice debacle that the sector is experiencing within the Andalusian capital, with the disappearance of a very powerful impartial and neighborhood bookstores which have animated the cultural lifetime of Seville in latest a long time. The first clue was given by the closure of Panella in June, which was adopted by Caótica within the Encarnación neighborhood, one other distinguished location, which closed in the beginning of autumn. Like the deciduous leaves that fall from the bushes in a cascade, different unhappy outcomes have occurred within the final month in areas with monumental native roots resembling El Gusanito Lector —final week within the Feria neighborhood—, Librería Reguera, Yerma… La To date, the sum reaches a complete of ten retailers devoted to books which have been closed. With the added drama that “they are spaces that contain much more than a bookstore, they are cultural meeting points and energizers of their environments,” as their homeowners preserve.

“Unfortunately, we’re not a social necessity, we’re not seen as an asset and, even worse, there isn’t a studying demand. Let’s say it clearly: books aren’t bought, it’s the signal of the occasions,” Soto resigns. The director of Verbo, along with the two partners who own the bookstore, do not own the iconic store. The drop in sales complicates the payment of rent. They met with the mayor of the city, José Luis Sanz (PP), a week ago to explain the situation and request help that is currently being studied, but which, in any case, its director assures, it is difficult to resolve. “a critical situation”, on the verge of imminent closure after Christmas. “At the moment the only thing we can do is ask for help like any other bookstore. But we are not just one more, this is the history of the city, with an important added value that makes coming here a different experience,” says Soto. In the commercial heart of Seville, the historic theater became a bookstore two decades ago.

José Juan Soto, head of the Verbo bookstore in Seville.
José Juan Soto, head of the Verbo bookstore in Seville. PACO PUENTES

It could be said, using theatrical language, that it is the only bookstore a la Italian from Spain. With this name, which was born after the construction in 1618 of the Farnese Theater in Parma, in Italy, most of the performing spaces in the Western world have been built to this day, in a configuration presided over by a shell-shaped stage that is separated from the room through a proscenium and facing frontally to a stalls arranged in a horseshoe. The books that can be found in Verbo, therefore, must be found by wandering whimsically through the different spaces that were originally configured to build the Imperial Theater of Seville in 1906, where it is located. Their titles smell of wood and sound like the creaking of the stage, and they show their spines in annals that once were numbered seats and are even distributed on a stage where actors once played their characters. Nothing in its appearance was modified to house what is today one of the only two bookstore-theaters in the world, which can only be seen in the transoceanic symmetry offered by the Ateneo Grand Splendid de Buenos Aires in the Argentine capital: the largest bookstore in South America, which operates inside a modernist theater inaugurated in 1919 in the Recoleta neighborhood.

A trend without remission

Despite this uniqueness and its privileged location, located at number 25 Sierpes Street in Seville, the most historic commercial artery in the city, Verbo has not resisted the inertia that is leaving the Andalusian capital without bookstores, nor even during these periods of buying fervor such as the Christmas holidays. “It is a peak sales season and we are going to try to save it with dignity, but we face it very disadvantaged, we are starting from a very bad previous situation,” confirms his director.

The Verbo bookstore also stands out for its specialization in books on the history of Seville: “We have been the spearhead, with a formidable fund, unique for an independent bookstore, with titles of all kinds about the city, both fiction and historical essays, the best known and those that are also far from clichés,” he expresses with regret, because this too could be history starting in January. “We are no longer buying and we are running out of funds,” he acknowledges.

Verbo Bookstore in Seville.
Verbo Bookstore in Seville.PACO PUENTES

It is the curse of the Imperial Theater: a chinese vase of high value that no one dares to touch – it has a cataloging in the General Urban Planning Plan of the city for exclusive cultural use – although no one knows where to place it within the cultural map of the city. Built on a convent disentailed in the 19th century, it was inaugurated as a café-singer in 1906 with a capacity for about 750 people. From there it has suffered all kinds of vicissitudes: from a variety theater in the first decades of the 20th century, the Imperial soon became one of the first cinemas in Seville with the arrival of the cinema. This is how it is still remembered today by the city’s residents who are already over fifty, since it did not return to its original theatrical function until the 1980s, when it became the flagship of Seville’s commercial billboard.

The theater closed in 2002 and just a year later, the Sevillian company Beta – now defunct – announced the opening in the old Imperial of one of the largest bookstores in Spain and the largest at that time on a single floor – with an area of ​​1,400 square meters—, in a heroic rescue to preserve this cultural emblem of the 20th century in Seville. Once again, dragged down this time by the financial crisis, the Imperial Theatre, now a bookstore, closed again in 2014. It remained that way for three years. It was in 2017 when two of the founding partners of the old Beta came together again to reactivate this space as a unique bookstore, already under the name Verbo, which is now dying again.

For its salvation, the proposal that Verbo has made to the municipal government involves financial aid and, in return, its transfer for use by the City Council as a municipal site more dedicated to cultural activity. “We are cultural promoters, we contribute to the projection and dissemination of the city’s image and we have always shown a firm commitment to culture,” says the director, who boasts in these six years of having had “frenetic activity.” Now, however, the curtain falls again.

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