Shakespeare and Sons

Prague’s fourth English-language bookstore opens its arms.

Shakespeare and Sons Bookstore and Café

Krymská 12 in P2

Tel: 271 740 839

Open 10:00 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week

There is a cultural Bermuda Triangle in Prague. The vertices are lower Vinohrady,
Nusle and Vrovice. Except for the Mexican restaurant Baracuda, here “diversity”
means a Russian herna bar abutting a Siberian tattoo parlor. Shakespeare a Synove
(Shakespeare and Sons) English-language bookstore and café, which officially
opens the first week in November, is a welcomed neighborhood addition.

Established in what was once known as “the best brothel in Prague” due to its
warm running water – an oddity in 1930s Eastern Europe – Shakespeare and Sons
is the brainchild of three Czechs and an American: Roman, Radim, David, and

After months of renovations, they are finally ready for business.

“I didn’t anticipate how much work had to go into preparation,” says Roman,
who conceived the idea in Paris while working at the world-famous Shakespeare
& Co. bookstore. “I expected us to be up and running in two months, but
we had to do everything. Repaint the walls, relay the floor, build the bookcases,
tables and light fixtures. Everything.”

The result is a comfortable, well-utilized space, divided into two sections:
a storefront café and bar with a small used books section, and “The Book Room”
where you’ll find new books and plenty of seating. Connecting the two areas
is a passage that features a mosaic by the Brno artist Libor Havlíček. “It took
us five weeks to complete that thing,” Bryn groans, staring at the passage.

You can smoke in the café while perusing the selection of used, multi-lingual
books and sipping on your choice of espresso, cappuccino or Dilmah teas, all
priced at under 30 Kč. Bernard is on tap (20 Kč for .3l) and there’s a good
liquor selection, with plans for a cocktail menu in the near future. Aside from
standard beer snacks, with the notable addition of pistachios, the food selection
focuses on desserts, including an excellent chocolate cake.

Shakespeare and Sons stands out, however, not for its brandies, but for its
variety of English-language print. Nine sections of books put the store immediately
in league with other, more established shops in town.

“We were able to get quite nice discounts on a lot of this stuff, which explains
the volume of material we have, as well as the price,” says Roman.

“You won’t find anything priced above cover,” adds Bryn.

Low overhead allows for low prices and most books ring in at around 300 Kč,
with only special circumstances – such as limited editions and unique formats
– shooting the price higher. One pleasant surprise is a Film/Theatre section
comprised mostly of Faber & Faber titles that average 300 Kč. “Their stuff
is usually pretty expensive, but, again, we got a nice discount,” Roman explains.

In addition, there are specialized sections for Poetry, Fiction, Chil-dren’s
Books and History/PoliSci/ Philosophy. If you can’t find what you want, they’ll
order it for you.

“Even if it means ordering something used online, if you want it bad enough,
we’ll find it for you,” Bryn promises. There are two foreign language sections,
German and Czech, the latter of which includes publications from small presses
such as Aula Press with original cover designs and jacket illustrations.

Shakespeare and Sons is a buy-and-sell establishment, so when you’ve finished
that third stab at Ulysses, you can return it for cash or credit: 25% and 35%
of the sale price, respectively.

Two tram stops from Naměstí Miru and just down the hill from Vinohrady, this
newcomer hopes to become a community hub for Prague’s English speakers. “This
is a place to come if you like books, if you like reading, if you’re into café
culture,” says Roman. He promises everything from readings to film screenings
to magazine launches, such as last month’s party for the release of Kilometer
Zero #3.

“We’re also open to ideas from our customers,” says Roman. “I hesitate to call
it a cultural center, but if you do something artistic, let us know. We’ll remember
your name.”

Jon Lutz is at [email protected]

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