Visited in November 2009
Although the primary goal of our recent trip to Vienna has been the Vienna Book Fair (Buchmesse), we were equally looking forward to paying a visit to a local independent English bookstore by the name of Shakespeare & Company, which was yet to be added to our Guide. We were contacted by the bookstore's owners a while ago, and instead of seeking recommendations from their regular visitors, we used this opportunity to see it for ourselves. And after a short stroll from the crowded Stephansplatz and a retreat to surprisingly silent side streets, we found ourselves in front of a bookstore bearing the famous name Shakespeare & Co. completely submerged in a world of its own.
As we were informed, this is actually the oldest part of the Austrian capital, called the Ruprechtsviertel and it has been inhabited since the year 14BC. The silent legacy of different times and different cultures this place has witnessed is a great setting for Shakespeare & Co. One of the first questions we've asked its owners was related to the tradition associated with this name, and we were told, that although there are no direct links between this bookstore and the notorious Shakespeare & Co in Paris, they share the same ideals and philosophy. However, the peaceful atmosphere of the bookstore and its location are in striking difference to its French counterpart.
It's kind of symbolic that during the time of our visit the bookstore was undergoing a rather important alteration - the sign hanging above its entrance was being changed (photo documentation of this event in Report from Vienna). However, you can't really call it a modernization, as the owners actually decided to put back an older picture of the booktsore's patron - William Shakespeare. On the other hand, Shakespeare & Company is surely not stuck in the past, as the modern open minded approach of its owners is reflected in the bookstore's stock and interior, but also in a touch of eccentricity, usually associated with all the true independent bookstores. We could mention that the books lack price tags (so in order to find out the price you need to ask) or that smoking in the bookstore is permitted (at least for the owners).
The selection of books in Shakespeare & Company turned out to be a most pleasant surprise. The stock, neatly divided into numerous sections (some of them with great names such as 'funky literature'), spreads over two rooms and it covers pretty much everything. All in all, Shakespeare & Company in Vienna is a unique place where indeed it is very likely that 'you'll let yourself be found by a book' as the bookstores motto suggests.
Shakespeare & Company
Phone and Email:
0043 1 535 50 53
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