June 11, 2014
Atlantis Books Celebrates 10 Years
by Claire Kelley
Perched on the black volcanic cliffs in the town of Oia on the Greek island of Santorini, Atlantis Books offers books in all languages, but mostly in English. It was founded ten years ago by a group of friends who build the whole place from wood discovered on the island. This summer, two members of the original crew are getting married and the bookshop will host its 3rd annual Caldera Arts & Literature Festival from July 4-6.
Since the inaugural year, which is described beautifully in the video by Maria Papagapiou below and captured in Will Brady‘s incredible photographs, the bookshop has been named one of the best bookstores in the world by The Guardian, Flavorwire, and Lonely Planet, among many others. In 2006, the New York Times ran a profile of the shop, describing its origins:
The idea began with Craig Walzer and Oliver Wise, 25-year-old Americans, who were vacationing on Santorini in 2002. They had finished their books and couldn’t find anything they liked in English at the local bookstores, where the selection was limited to detective novels and guidebooks. Intoxicated by Santorini’s beauty, they decided to open a shop modeled on Shakespeare & Company, the English-language bookstore in Paris.
Today, a rotating staff of artists, book lovers, and writers stock the store with an excellent assortment of books, and they are always eager to give recommendations. A new publishing arm, called Paravion Press has launched, and features beautifully designed and illustrated classic short works that are meant to be sent by mail.
Next time you’re in Greece and find yourself in Santorini, be sure to make a special trip to Oia to watch the sun set and visit the shop. The journey, the natural beauty, the bookstore, and the community it inspires are just magical. I saw a bookmark from the stop taped to the wall when I was staying at Shakespeare & Company in Paris in 2007, and decided to take a ferry from Bari, Italy to Athens then Santorini to see it for myself. Since then I’ve returned for a film festival and a literary festival, and this summer, I’m excited to be making the trip to the literary wonderland again.
Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.