what does amazon have that a bookshop doesn’t? the catalogue, of course. amazon has everything. or nearly. and then? then the service. a fast delivery with the least inconvenience. neat. aseptic. anonymous. impersonal. unintrusive. it never asks questions. never judges. it requires a payment. and delivers. delivers anything. and what does it lack instead? it cannot say, with a smile, “if I wasn’t a bookseller, I would be a librarian.” it will never be Mister Luca Ambrogio Santini. bookseller out of passion. it will never spend its days chatting about books. organizing events for and with books. amazon doesn’t make any difference between a book and a drill. Mister Luca does. amazon doesn’t read. Mister Luca does. he has always read. since before he became a bookseller. amazon gives advice according to figures. Mister Luca listens. looks. chats while thinking. sometimes about his own business. and you see him daydream. remember. be moved. and, after all these things that are typical of a human being, a book appears in his hands. for you. for me. for my sister’s birthday. amazon can’t enrapture people and let them read a book they were not even going to leaf through. Mister Luca can. sitting at the Caffè Vaniglia e Zenzero. with a small but carefully chosen selection of books. he drinks his ginseng coffee and chats. seduces. unavoidably attracts toward the printed paper. he smiles while quickly explaining a book’s contents. he doesn’t just summarize it. he doesn’t read what is written on the back cover. he narrates. and experiences once again the emotion of discovering. that one man on his own without a particular reason decided to accomplish an impossible feat and succeeded. will amazon ever be able to narrate wonder? will it be able to arouse enthusiasm and make you believe that anything is possible? that even our remotest dreams can be realized? that if we want, we can? Mister Luca can. I see Mister Luca delivering books tomorrow throughout the zone 5 in Milan with his brand new bicycle. he isn’t rich. but he is well-to-do. he isn’t fat. but he’s happy. but Mister Luca. owner of LibriSottoCasa. bookshop of the zone 5 in Milan. can do what amazon does. and even more. he delivers at home the books you have ordered via e-mail. or via phone. or via facebook. or in person. he is slightly slower. but, to be honest, an amazon parcel isn’t delivered in 24 hours either. it always takes at least 48 hours. Luca manages to get almost everything. he also sells school books. and if you want to make a last minute addition you only need to call him. and he answers! and he as well. like amazon. asks you where you want the books to be delivered. at home? at your office? shall I leave it at the café? at the hairdresser’s? at the porter’s lodge? and he understands directions that are different from those that fill the required fields. and isn’t it true. that basically. we can wait some days more? like when we go to the restaurant and have a chat. we drink a glass of wine. we live! while waiting for the dish we have ordered. the books sold by amazon aren’t more beautiful than those sold by Mister Luca. it’s true that amazon applies a discount. but the competence. the knowledge. the helpfulness. and kindness of our Mister LibriSottoCasa have a market value. although we tend to forget it.
I look at this man flying and dreaming as he chats and smiles. as he answers the phone and gets absorbed in editorial policies. as he says hello to his neighbour who for a moment becomes a client and asks him for a specific book for her son. as I was reading his post on facebook where I first met him. and even now that I look at him working. I imagine an army of booksellers without a bookshop. but with a lot of friends. each one bringing books and competence to his/her own zone. and for those who don’t want home delivery service. they wait for you at the bar. at the barber’s. in a square. do you think it is possible? Mister LibriSottoCasa shows me everything is possible. and does it by handing me the book of the cyclist that crossed the ocean. and if the cyclist could. I think. even Mister Luca can. we all can.
to all the booksellers that don’t have a bookshop but have an e-mail address. a smartphone. a social network account. and collaborate with a wholesaler. to all the booksellers who, like Mister Luca, would be librarians if they weren’t booksellers, go and sell! go and promote! go and live! following what love tells you. love for books. without fixed extra costs. like the rent of a shop. light. heating. garbage.
to all the people who live or work in the zone 5 in Milan. and who need a book. or two. you can require the services of LibriSottoCasa by calling 339 784 01 44. or writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. or via facebook.com/librisottocasa or twitter.com/librisottocasa.
the LibrisottoCasa corner is kindly hosted by: CAFFETTERIA VANIGLIA E ZENZERO (Mister Bookseller Luca Ambrogio Santini personally receive clients every Thursday morning and Friday afternoon) in via Tantardini 8. ROOTS HAIR & TATTOO in viale Bligny 2 (rootsmilano.com - facebook.com/rootsmilano). MAGAZZINO MUSICA in via Soave 3 (magazzinomusica.it - facebook.com/magazzinomusica). all in Milan.