To find a library in Milan is as simple as it can be: La Feltrinelli, Mondadori and Rizzoli are based here, just to mention a few examples among large retailers. But the Lombard metropolis is literally studded with small and medium-sized bookshops, independent and not, which can make the avid reader’s research very exciting.
Personally, when I want to be inspired in choosing a book to read or to give as a gift I never miss the chance to go to the Libreria Internazionale Hoepli. Perhaps Milanese people’s favourite bookshop: ask anyone on the street and they will tell you where it is, a short walk from piazza San Babila, near the “Ruota Solare” by Arnaldo Pomodoro. Exactly in via Ulrico Hoepli, the street dedicated to its founder who settled in Milan in 1870 with the noble goal of selling books.
The current space features six floors, and despite the crisis its blue neon sign remains a certainty in the publishing universe. What amazes me every time I come here is the care with which publications are arranged in the endless shelves, a maniacal order typical of a small neighborhood library reproduced on a large scale: the many booksellers that move up and down the Hopli’s premises will advise you on where to look, or will leave you, if you wish, to discreetly visit the departments, divided by themes, of this library without frills and yet full of everything.
500,000 books, 175,000 titles (only a few numbers that can be quoted) linked to the Hoepli Editore (Hoepli publisher): in this case we speak about technical manuals, language dictionaries and textbooks. Consider that the term “manual”, understood as a publication dedicated to a topic’s summary and its practicality, has been introduced by the Hoepli’s family and represents one of its strong points.
That said, I am a big fiction reader and a “commercial” user, so most of the time I just look around the ground floor, I love asking for advice or just buy off the top of my head, according to my tastes. If I have time I visit the small space dedicated to temporary photography exhibitions, or better yet, I browse the program of presentations which take place during the week: in fact they are held in the events room, where among other things is possible to see an architectural reproduction of Galleria De Cristoforis, the historic place where Hoepli has built the foundations of his books kingdom, a legacy for the citizenry that values Milan’s artistic and cultural offer.
A particular initiative has awakened my interest, among the many joined by Hoepli: it is called “Zanza un libro” and is something like the “libro in sospeso” (literaly “hanging book”, the practise of paying a book for the next person who goes into the shop and asks for it) with the difference that in this case you can donate it to San Vittore’s prison library.
By the way, the novel that I’ve chosen to buy today is called “Ho paura torero“, by Pedro Lemebel, Marcos Y Marcos pubblication: the 15% discount on the whole narrative has persuaded me to follow the good habit for which you should never leave a booskshop empty-handed.