|The proprietor of Libreria Marco Polo, Claudio, speaks with a customer
To a bookstore--like all independent bookstores--already surviving on a narrow margin, this blow was heavy enough to almost knock it out of business. But the owners of the store decided to keep their doors open and file an appeal to the multa as unmerited and excessive.
Recently the bookstore received a response to this appeal from the city: the fine was reduced to 680 euros.
|Places to sit aren't unusual in US bookstores, but this bench is the only such accommodation to readers that I've seen in a Venice bookstore; this room is almost entirely devoted to used titles in English
I went to the store late the next afternoon intending to contribute and then return home to post a blog about the situation, providing the store's Paypal address to which donations could be sent anytime before December 8.
|A partial view of the used and new section of Italian titles
Claudio still seemed a little surprised, maybe even a bit awed, by such a rapid and generous response, and I found myself thinking of the last scene of the Frank Capra film It's a Wonderful Life. The last scene of that movie has often struck me as a little over the top, rather hokey--but in the bookstore, in real life, that is, the outpouring of support wasn't hokey at all, but authentically impressive.
Of course the point of that last raucous scene of communal generosity in the Capra film is to offer concrete evidence of what an important role the protagonist (portrayed by Jimmy Stewart) has played in the life of his small town, and so, too, the show of support for Libreria Marco Polo--no less marvelous, and hardly less magical (even without the films' angel character)--is a testament to the vital and inspiring role that a small independent bookstore can continue to play in the life of a city.
And I'm pleased to pass along the information that the bookstore is poised to potentially play an even bigger part in the Friday night life of this generally pretty sleepy and early-to-bed city by extending its hours on that particular evening to 11 pm. It's the only bookstore in the city to offer a late night of this sort, and it also remains the only bookstore in the city with a place for browsers to sit down and look over potential purchases or to relax and read what they've just bought. I know of no other bookstore in the city so welcoming--it even has free tea available--and if you aren't already familiar with its fine selection of used books in English, its always-interesting and provocative selection of new books in Italian, along with smaller sections of used books in Italian, French and German, I'd suggest it's worth seeking out, tucked away behind the beautiful little parish church of San Giovanni Gristostomo, a short walk from the Rialto Bridge.
|Now open until 11pm every Friday night