bookstores

Featured Photo: JackF, Getty Images

Even nicer than finally being able to call a good book your own is being able to browse in a good bookshop. About good books I have already written several times in my posts and even a few recommendations handed over, but hardly through good "bookstores".

As with books, it's probably the same with the bookstores themselves, but I believe that there are bookstores that differ far from the usual book sales outlets and even create experiences that everyone will remember. I'm firmly convinced that the great mass of bookstores is now like the fast food restaurants that are so popular, yes satisfies the first hunger, but causes permanent damage to the consumer rather than helping the individual in his or her own development.

In order to substantiate my assertion a little, I recommend that you simply go to the nearest book sales point. As soon as you enter the same you see everything, even books. And the top sellers in the industry immediately catch your eye, for example the wet rooms of perpetually pubescent seniors or the extensive memoirs of prominent babies. The selection is immense and this with a very limited variety of topics. Admittedly, you will find other topics in the depths of these bookstores, and what is not available can also be ordered.

But what does all this have to do with a bookstore? Do you remember the bookstore? Wendelin Cute in Stuttgart, who was also very politically active. Here in Heilbronn I still know the bookshop that has existed since 1688 (!). fighter, which probably also has to go with the spirit of the times. And with that Paul Bookstore also a specialized and therefore actually a specialist bookstore, which has meanwhile also greatly expanded its range.

Even if these bookstores fulfill their actual purpose, it is difficult to get lost in the rows or mountains of books. Stopping, sitting down and rummaging through a completely “unfamiliar” book before you become fascinated by the abundance of topics and devote yourself to another completely unknown author. Already Haruki Murakami believed that you can only think what other people think if we all read the same books.

A bookstore to dream about

In some cities you can still find such hidden adventure spaces from time to time, although there is a real risk that you will no longer find or do not want to find the exit. 

Gold Leaf Bookstore
Gold Leaf Bookstore

Since 2014, Böckingen, a district of Heilbronn, has had the Gold Leaf Bookstore   Johanna Chebi. This is only open three half days a week, namely Thursdays and Fridays from 14.00:17.30 p.m. to 10.30:14.30 p.m. and Saturdays from XNUMX:XNUMX a.m. to XNUMX:XNUMX p.m.


Correction: now unfortunately only on Fridays and Saturdays at the same times.


The shop came about by chance after Johanna had started selling used books on Amazon and wondered how she could get hold of larger quantities of books. She wanted to solve this with a one-off purchase of books and since she worked in Böckingen, she moved around there to look at empty shops and found what she was looking for in Klingenberger Straße for the first time. The shop owner also wanted to rent her the shop for a day.

She then advertised the purchase of books in the Heilbronnerstimme and was very popular. Her friends helped offer free drinks and those interested in lugging books. This went on for hours and afterwards she was not only "completely exhausted", but also broke; especially since she had also offered to collect books from her home.

The landlady offered her to leave the books in the shop until she found a solution. Since this was not the case even after months, Johanna finally rented the shop permanently. 

In 2017, however, Johanna had to change shops and found what she was looking for when a bicycle shop on Stedinger Straße closed for reasons of age; a total of 20 square meters without heating, as it used to be just a showroom.

At first, book sales continued to languish, but over time it actually got better. In the meantime, a small, continuous customer base has developed. However, it is still too small, since the throughput of the books should be better. The books sit on the shelf too long before they find an owner. 

She makes most of her sales with novels, detective stories and thrillers, less so with non-fiction books. She also has a few loyal customers who are interested in antiquarian books. It also offers the option of ordering books you are looking for or that are out of print online. These customers then also take other books from the store with them.

Not unusual today, she receives many donations of books in front of the shop. Your warehouse is filling up more and more. “Usable” books go straight to the shelves, antiquarian ones to the basement first. Some books are also offered in front of the shop as “for free”, and experience has shown that books that are completely “unusable” are picked up by the Böckinger scouts as waste paper. Nevertheless, her warehouse is bursting at the seams, since she has not yet had the time to put books online. 

Johanna Chebi knows her regular customers and greets them by name. Since she now knows their reading habits quite well, she also reserves books for them that they might be interested in. Their customers are on average 25 to 85 years old.

The special thing about this district shop is that customers and sales assistants now feel like a "little family". It's mostly fun. This may also be due to the fact that Johanna herself is not a trained bookseller and knows as much about literature as she does about politics. So it is that the customers sometimes know the gold leaf bookshop better than they do themselves; also that Johanna asks her regular customers who are present to show the other customers books that are currently in demand. 

Anecdotes that you tell each other and drinking coffee together are now part of a visit to the bookshop. This also results in happy conversations between customers, and the bookshop has developed into a contact point not only for "living artists", where people discuss, philosophize or just talk their own worries off their souls in and in front of the shop.

The beauty of the gold leaf bookstore is that it is constantly evolving and constantly reinventing itself. Johanna's latest slogan is: "Visit the smallest and most rustic bookshop in Heilbronn." There is nothing more to add.


"Why can't people just sit and read books and be nice to each other?"

David Baldacci, The Camel Club (2005)
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