Book Therapy is an independent bookstore based in Prague and Brno. We offer a curated selection of books and magazines of the highest standard, which – to our happiness – creates a wonderful community of customers with the same values as we have. We are trying to be as sustainable and socially responsible as possible, one step at a time.
1. We all find something calming or meditative about books, so what do you think is the most therapeutic aspect of books?
The most therapeutic aspect of books is the fact that when you’re enjoying one – when you’re slowly diving into the words or images – the world stops for a while. Your thoughts and fears are muted, and the whole experience is truly like meditation. Yet other aspects are very therapeutic too. The way the beautiful paper feels when you hold the book, for example, or even the smell of the paper. It’s a very sensual thing, to read a book.
2. I read with interest about your private bookshop tours, what usually happens on one of these tours?
Perhaps you mean our VIP therapies. These are very private indeed, yet not exactly tours. Our customers can book a VIP therapy through our e-shop or Airbnb, and then at the time when we would normally close our bookstore, we open it just for them and their plus one. They can enjoy our bookstore alone for three hours, in an intimate atmosphere with a bottle of high-quality wine and a beautiful playlist.
3. What made you want to go into bookselling? What is your favourite/least favourite part about it?
When me and my husband, Jiří, go abroad, beautiful bookstores are always one of the first places we visit. And it’s always been like that, so back in 2016 we felt it was high time for Prague to get such a place too. We opened in autumn, and it was a huge success. People wanted and needed such a place. I love that by demonstrating our values, we attract similarly thinking people, and our community is strong, very positive, ready to do something for a positive change. That’s brilliant. What I’m not so excited about is the unnecessary plastic and papers that sometimes come with new boxes. Why send a paper invoice when you can send it by mail, for example? I think companies should pay more attention to the environment.
4. The last two years of lockdowns and the global pandemic have presented challenges and opportunities for booksellers – have you done anything different or found new opportunities that didn’t exist before?
See, the biggest change for us was the eshop. Back in 2016, we didn’t want it. We wanted to be as analogue as possible, but then it saved us. Our bookstores were closed during the lockdown, of course, but our dear customers quickly understood the situation and got used to buying books online, and as a result, we carried on and didn’t even have to reduce our team. We focused even harder on communication with our customers. We use social media, of course, but we also send newsletters via email, and we send short messages via WhatsApp every morning to tell our community what’s now in Book Therapy. It makes us very happy that people are interested and enjoy being updated. We hear them, they hear us.
We like to spend time with our customers and care for them even if they don’t necessarily need or want to buy a new book. Therefore, in accordance with anti-covid precautions, we organise parties and book-signings, we have actors from the National Theatre coming over to read to our clients at Book Therapy, and our clients can be “with us” even at home: We are on Spotify, so they can enjoy our exclusive playlists our favourite DJs composed for them. Soon, we’ll have online talks with our authors too.
5. If you could open a bookshop in another country, which would it be and why?
That’s a tough one. But you know, we can open a bookshop in another country, it is doable, and it might only be a matter of time until we do it. We love Vienna, for example, we love Copenhagen and other Scandinavian cities. They are full of people who are progressive and very inspiring. But who knows, maybe in the end you will see us opening Book Therapy in another country – in one that needs to be inspired a bit more. Isn’t that our mission, after all?
5. Finally, if you had to take one book with you on a long journey, which would it be and why?
We’re still bound by the wider society’s faltering return to health and well-being. As the social and productive fabric I feel like repeating myself, but I really love Are Kalvo’s Cabin Book from Hell. Are’s a Norwegian comedian who likes to make fun of his nation’s love for hiking in the mountains. It’s smart and it’s really, really fun.