Books4Spain: The bookseller putting Spain on the map
by Anna Nicholas and first published on Daily Telegraph expat blog on 17 July 2012
A decade ago, having just bought a dilapidated old finca in rural Majorca, I felt inspired to read as much about Spain, my soon-to-be new home, as I possibly could. Back in London I became a member of the Cervantes Institute and enthusiastically enrolled on a Spanish course for beginners at International House. So far so good.
It was only when I began browsing various bookstores in search of a good selection of English language books about Spain that I encountered problems. There were plenty of travel guides but it was difficult to find a bookshop that offered a wide variety of Spanish interest titles. On my quest, I pottered around the European language bookshops in London but the selections were sparse and most, written in the Spanish language, required a certain level of linguistic proficiency.
Since that time I’ve got to the stage where picking up a tome in the Spanish language isn’t as daunting as it once was although I draw the line at Don Quijote (or Don Quixote if you prefer!) given that the English version nearly finished me off. All the same, there are books about Spain that I’d rather tackle in my own language particularly historical – such as about the Spanish Civil War – or cultural works such as books by Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell or for example Laurie Lee. I used to dream of a one-stop bookshop where such specialist titles could be found effortlessly under one roof and then like a raging toro, kicking sand in the faces of mass market online booksellers, Books4Spain came along.
The brainchild of Rod Younger, an Anglo-Spaniard now living in Spain, Books4Spain offers a bespoke online bookshop full of mouthwatering oeuvres covering a multitude of Spanish themes. Aside from contemporary fiction, culture, travel and crime, there are historical works aplenty on specialist subjects such as the Alhambra, Spanish Inquisition,the Peninsular War and the Spanish Civil War and as many as 70 books on flamenco. There are also sports titles including those about Real Madrid and tennis phenomenon, Rafa Nadal.
Books4Spain was born out of frustration at the decline of the traditional book shop offering expert knowledge, and the advent of online “soulless” book market places where the customer was left to fend for himself in a cold and friendless environment. His love, nay passion, for Spain, is evident in the tireless way in which he has forged partnerships with the Cervantes Institute and the cultural department of the Spanish government.
Although Books4Spain is an online store, Rod Younger promises to answer ‘reader’ enquiries within 24 hours and is an indefatigable promoter for the site and in particular its authors. It is heartening to know that in the wilderness of the web there’s a very human site with a passion for all things Spain. I wish Rod Younger the very best of luck, or sort as we say here. He’s taken the bull by the horns and is attracting thousands of Hispanophiles to his site. I can’t see the likes of even Amazon standing in his way.