After 113 years, Salonica bookstore is forced to adapt

THESSALONIKI – It was entirely rebuilt following a fire in 1917, and it managed to refill its empty shelves after being looted during the German occupation. It did not, however, survive the fierce competition of the global market. Following a formidable career spanning 113 years, the legendary Molho bookstore is joining forces with publishing house Paratiritis in an attempt to survive financially the new era. Iosif Molho, a member of the third generation of the bookstore owners, decided to sell 42 percent of the company’s stock and concede its management in a decisive moment in the history of Thessaloniki’s publishing world. Though this kind of partnership and synergy is not unusual these days, in this particular case it carries special weight because it concerns one of the country’s top bookstores, a unique and innovative endeavor which carries rare editions of English, French and Greek books as well as international and local press. A necessity Despite these new developments, however, the bookstore will retain its special character. It is my soul, my life and my dreams, says Molho, yet at the same time I have to be part of the game. Petros Papasaradopoulos, owner and publisher of Paratiritis, believes that given the current state of affairs, the partnership is unavoidable. If businesses operating in the same field don’t get together, then the road ahead will be very steep, he says. Furthermore, Papasaradopoulos believes that in order to provide efficient services to both a Greek and an increasingly international clientele living in Thessaloniki, the celebrated bookstore’s infrastructure needs to be updated, with an upgrade in computerization in particular. A book shop’s history It was Isaac Molho who founded the bookstore in the multicultural city of Thessaloniki in 1888, at a time when the city was an international center for commerce, part of the Ottoman Empire, and a key railway junction linking the city with other parts of Europe on the one hand and Istanbul on the other. Mair Molho, who took over a few years later, succeeded in restructuring the shop twice, following two dramatic events; a devastating fire in 1917 and the German occupation. Amid the ashes left after the fire, the bookstore carried on with foreign publications and foreign press, while it filled its empty shelves and accepted the obligation to pay off all its debt to foreign publishers, a debt which had accumulated during the occupation, when it was requisitioned by the Germans (1941-45), and then by the British (1945-46). After the war, the bookstore passed on to Solomondas Molho, while three years ago, it was Iosif Molho’s turn at the helm.

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