In recent years, Prague has been closing the gap on other Western countries when it comes to the shops and cafés that it has to offer. You almost don’t have a chance to keep up with all the new tempting places. One place that was missing for too long, though, was a bookshop specializing in art publications and periodicals that would not be part of one of the local galleries or museums. One of those bookshops that you see in Berlin or London.
This gap was filled a couple of years ago by Page Five. Page Five is a bookshop and publishing house in one. It was founded by František and Štěpán, who are, in their own words, obsessed with paper, books, and various displays of visual culture. Their bookshop is located in the Veverkova Street in Letná, which is renowned amongst locals and tourists. Opposite to Page Five, there is the also popular Bistro 8, which is good to know because you will very likely be hungry after browsing through all kinds of books. No matter if you love high-quality poetry, are interested in arts, architecture, design, or photography, you will find what you are looking for.
František and Štěpán also give a lot of space to young Czech authors and they focus their publishing activity on them. They cooperate with foreign bookshops and publishers in order to ensure distribution and promotion of the lesser-known Czech literary authors on the international level. Thanks to their valuable contacts abroad, they have foreign publications and periodicals on offer that you would have previously had to order online. Page Five is also a pleasant meeting spot for readers and authors at regular launches of publications and author’s readings.
Along with the bookshop you run a small publishing house. How many titles have you published through Page Five? How is your publishing house different from others?
We differ from other publishing houses because we specialize in books about arts and the main thing is we embrace the unique manufacturing of a book. So far we have published four titles. The first one is Umělec, vila a bazén, which we published along with the project Nad Čarou. It is an anthology of essays looking at whether a person should study arts at school to become an artist. It is unique too, because it is a double book connected by a zip. Other titles we have published are Nebula – an interactive illustrated notebook for kids, and CYAN – poems about graphic design by Matěj Moravec. The fourth title is Graffoman – a catalog by Michal Škapa. This one is unique due to its content, with Michal including his paintings instead of photographs. The paintings are overlapping in many ways and the book is a work of art itself. It is also printed on risograph, which is an ink duplicator that we got. This month we are opening a bookbinding and printing workroom, called PressFive, where we will print out on order.
There are plenty of interesting shops in the Veverkova Street where you are located. Is Letná a heavily touristic place or do you find that you get more locals?
The Veverkova Street has definitely become a destination for tourists. We particularly began to notice this this year when tourists came purposefully as we are mentioned in several international guides.
Do you have time to read all the titles you have on offer? How often do you turn down a publication?
We have around a thousand titles and it is not possible to read everything, unfortunately. However, we do have general knowledge about the titles because we choose them ourselves. We do not reject many titles. We are lucky to get authors who have a similar taste and understand whether their book fits our shops or not.
What is your opinion on the trend of electronic books?
Electronic books offer a great solution when travelling. I have a reader at home, too. However, they can never replace a printed book. Technology is unable to imitate the smell and the feeling of paper. When we print something, we always care about the choice of paper, as well as the printing technique.
Do you visit bookshops when travelling abroad? Do you have any favourite places?
Definitely. Lately, we have mainly been going on holidays at book markets of small publishers. But also when travelling for other purposes, we pick a couple of places to visit. Out biggest inspirations are Berlin, London and Leipzig.
What book in your library is the most valuable for you?
We particularly value zines that we get in our bookshop or at markets. With zines there are only a few copies and the author very rarely prints additional copies. As well as them, we also value untraditional books that are manufactured in an interesting way.