Minoa is an internationally renowned independent bookseller based in Istanbul, Turkey. The company owns five bookstores, with the flagship branch (Minoa Village) being situated in the Beşiktaş district. This beautifully presented store houses approximately 60,000 books across different genres and disciplines. Within the shop sits an event space along with a cafe that provides a forum for discussion of books and literary culture… as well as a great coffee.
Last year saw Minoa win the prestigious Bookshop of the Year award at the London Book Fair, with the judging panel stating that the shop is ‘a labour of love, serving their community through a team and valued by both Minoa’s owners and its customers.’
As part of our International Bookshop of the Month series, the kind folk of Minoa took some time to answer our questions and explain a little more about the Beşiktaş shop and its fellow sites.
1. How long has your bookstore been around?
Minoa opened its doors in 2014. It was a life’s dream to have a bookstore for the founders Petek and Nazim Tokuz. They wanted to open a unique bookstore and give something back to Istanbul – a city that has given them so much.
2. What makes the bookshop unique and how has this changed over years of trading?
Minoa is a bookstore and coffee shop that was created to bring together like-minded people sharing a lifestyle around books. It took 3 years to create the concept, plan, construct, decorate the shop, and set up the business. Petek and Nazim visited international book fairs and selected titles as they would for their own bookshelves at home.
Minoa carries a great selection of books, from biography to cookbooks, from sociology to comics. We have one of the largest classic literature, modern classics, and contemporary literature collections in Istanbul – in both English and Turkish. From the concept, to the selection of books, and the service, Minoa has always been a unique bookstore. The team shares this passion and it has developed over the years.
We have a great community that was supportive from the first day, giving ideas and suggesting books.
3. How many stores do you have?
We started with one bookstore and coffee shop but with demand and support from Minoa-lovers we now have 5 locations in Istanbul. We are excited to be opening Minoa Pera this Autumn in a historical building in Beyoglu district.
4. Tell us something about your favourite Yale University Press title
One of our favorite writers is Patti Smith. We – as many of us are – are influenced by her approach to life, art, and creativity. Her book Devotion (Why I Write) from Yale is a must-read for us. We love to read writers’ ideas about the creative process and writing. It tells of a creative journey with a fictional narrative, having autobiographical details. It is a multi-dimensional, inspiring work.
5. Who are your staff and how long have they been with you?
We started with a very small team – this core of 6 people still works with us. They select the books and oversee the inventory, buying, and curation for all of our branches. Some of these staff also work certain times during the week as booksellers in our Minoa Akaretler shop. An additional team of 8 booksellers is responsible for day-to-day sales and customer service in this shop. Among them is Deniz; a team member who is an author himself with 2 books published from one of the most reputable Turkish publishers… There is Emre; a bookseller who is also responsible for managing the bookstore team. He has a Masters degree in Philosophy & Education. We have Aslı; our queen buyer specialising in English fiction. She is a bookworm with a Masters degree in English Comparative Literature… and other colleagues who all have solid knowledge and great passion for books.
All of our booksellers have a solid knowledge and great passion for books. We also have a great team working in the café section.
6. What is the most rewarding part of working in a bookshop? What is the most difficult part?
The most rewarding part of working in a bookshop is helping customers discover new books. The majority of our customers come to our shops repeatedly and we love to discuss books and share their excitement. The most difficult part may be not being able to answer needs in time – especially with imported books, it may sometimes happen.