At a time when countless other businesses are struggling, Ona Llibres has opened a new 1,000 sqm bookstore devoted exclusively to Catalan language titles on Pau Claris, in Barcelona’s Eixample neighborhood. Ona Llibres, however, has been around for a while. Founded in 1962, during Franco’s dictatorship, there was an Ona Llibres bookstore on Gran Via until 2010, when they were forced to close for financial reasons. Three years later, one of the original owners’ daughters, Montse Úbeda, opened a smaller Ona Llibres on Gran de Gràcia.
The new Ona Llibres on Pau Claris is a joint effort between Montse Úbeda and businessman Tatxo Benet, who envisions it as more than just a bookstore, but a 21st-century Catalan cultural center. “When people come here, they don’t have to buy a book. They can come and have a coffee, grab a book, read it, and put it back as well as participate in literature or writing workshops,” Benet explains. Besides workshops and classes, Ona Llibres also plans to host art shows, conferences, seminars, and even concerts in the future.
Like other businesses, this new one has adopted current health and safety requirements. As Barcelona is still in lockdown de-escalation Phase 1, the entire store cannot be opened, but only a 400 sqm area. Temperatures are also taken at the entrance and everyone is required to wear a face mask and wash their hands with hand sanitizer before being allowed inside.
For those unable or still wary about visiting physical stores, an online store will be launched in the coming weeks -that hopes to rival Amazon for books in Catalan- where Ona Llibres’ booksellers will still be able to share their recommendations with their customers.