Deciding which books to bring is a difficult decision for every backpacker. Knowing there will be times they’re your only source of entertainment means literally weighing the pro’s and cons of each book you pack. Ebooks do make it easier, but nothing beats a real book. That’s how I connected online with Steve Bieber, the owner of Authors Bookstore in Bogota, Colombia. I asked him the question; Which book would you bring on a backpacking adventure? His answer was Tom Clancy’s first novel “The Hunt for Red October.” It was published by the Naval Institute Press, a tiny publisher in Annapolis, Maryland where Steve is from. He loves the tight editing style, length, and of course the suspenseful story. After a few more 140-character exchanges on Twitter I told him I would stop by when I arrived in Bogota.
My first week here I went to find Steve at Authors but unfortunately he wasn’t there. However I did learn that the entire staff speaks english, and they recommended I go to the Gabriel García Márquezso exhibit at the “Biblioteca García Márquez.” Not only is he an iconic Colombian author, but he’s also the only Colombian to ever win the Nobel prize.
A couple weeks later I went back and Steve gladly accepted my invitation to talk about his English language bookstore in the heart of this Spanish-speaking metropolis. Before sitting dow he invited me to diletto, the small cafe next door, for an amazing cup of Colombian coffee. Back in the bookstore he started by telling me how 8 years ago, when he opened the store, his business plan was to have 80 percent of his customers be foreigners and 20 percent Colombian. Instead the opposite has happened, 80 percent of his business comes from local Colombians while foreigners make up the small remainder. The state department has also been putting more money into bilingual programs and that means more children are learning English. In many cases parents come to buy books even though they don’t speak English themselves but want to support their children’s education.
Another reason people are buying so many English books here in Bogota is because the country is much safer now. People feel more protected and secure than they did in the past and because of that many Colombians that were living abroad are now returning to the country. They usually have more disposable income and a higher level of education, now that they have returned to Bogota they want to read the classics in English, or they want to read the new Dan Brown novel in it’s original language, or they just want to buy the latest magazine from America.
Bieber says he wants Authors to be a gathering place, a community centre for foreigners who are also looking for a bookstore. They often host events at the store but the next big thing the Authors team is looking forward to is the Colombian Book Fair. It is held from April 30th to May 12th each year in Bogota and is the largest book fair in South America. It brings publishers, distributors, booksellers, writers, and other related professionals from all over the world. There will be thousands of unique exhibits, so if you’re a reading/writing enthusiast like myself be sure to check it out, and if you are in Bogota drop in and say hello to Steve Bieber at the Authors Bookstore.
Address: Calle 70 # 5-23 Bogotá
Monday thru Saturday
10:00 a.m. — 8:00 p.m.
Sunday & Holidays
10:00 a.m. — 6:00 p.m.