Nide Bookstore was founded in 2015 in the heart of the Helsinki Design District. As many of the independent bookstores were vanishing in Helsinki, the co-owner Joose Siira and I (Tehri Jääskeläinen) thought there was a great need for one in Helsinki. We had worked in the same company where I was running the bookshops for the Finnish National Gallery (Kiasma and Ateneum), and when the museums wanted to take over the shops and stopped selling books in 2014, we had our chance to build our own store. This is why we have a great selection of art and design books besides a nice collection of fiction and non-fiction. We also have a carefully selected section for children’s books and international magazines of art, culture and lifestyle.
1. How did you get into bookselling? What do you think is the most enjoyable (and if I may) the least enjoyable aspect of bookselling?
I had a business background with a Masters degree in International Marketing and was finishing my second Masters in Art History when The Museum of Contemporary Art, Kiasma was built in Helsinki (1997). I got the job of building up a bookstore for the museum. This was a dream come true as I always wanted to head into the culture field, but I never imagined one day I would have my own bookstore.
Definitely the most enjoyable aspect of bookselling is to find the perfect book for a customer. There’s nothing that competes with that positive energy and communication with the customer. I love practically everything about being a bookseller but maybe the least enjoyable aspect is the fact that the books are quite expensive in Finland. Selling paper books, we are competing with audio- and e-books and that puts a little bit of pressure on pricing. However, I find it challenging in a positive way and it makes us work harder for a good selection.
2. What is the reading community like in Helsinki? What kind of things do they like reading?
The bookshop is just one part of the business, and so, whilst The reading community is very active in Helsinki. There are normally many literary happenings (for example Helsinki Lit festival), podcasts and book clubs, and we have a wide circle of regular customers of all ages. According to our experience as a small, independent neighbourhood bookstore, people love to read (and to have a conversation about) contemporary fiction and non-fiction, both Finnish and international, and classics too. Books on feminist and racial theory have been very popular lately. Our art, lifestyle and coffee table books and magazines are also very popular since there are not many shops around selling them. Many people like to read the books in a writer’s original language and I’m happy to see a steady growth in our English language books.
3. Will you be doing any events in the near future? Are there any particular projects that you are excited about?
We have a history of being very active in arranging book launches, interviews, readings and discussions on literature. During the last year, we have moved them online, streaming some of them. We always have some plans of activities but at the moment we have to follow the situation with covid, which isn’t looking very promising right now. Over the years, we have also worked together with different businesses, having pop-ups and co-shops (for example with Marimekko and Kämp Garden), and attended fairs and other happenings. Now we are working on a bigger project which is still a secret but will be announced in September. We are very excited about this coming co-operation.
4. If you could go on a ‘literature holiday’, travelling a country that’s full of writers you love, where would you go and why?
I think I would choose to go to Japan. I have never been there, but have read many Japanese writers and a lot about their culture. I love their sense of aesthetics and the beauty and serenity of their words and expressions. There always seems to be this exceptional feeling in Japanese literature. Also, I’m very fascinated about the female writer Sei Shonagon who lived around 1000 CE during the Heian period and whose Pillow Book is soon to be translated in Finnish.
5. Do you have a favourite book from Yale University Press?
My favourite as an all-time fan of Patti Smith: Devotion.
I also like the Why I Write series more generally.