End of chapter for legendary Prague bookstore

Photo: CTK

The legendary Fišer bookstore in Kaprova Street near the Old Town Square, which has been selling books since the 1930s, is closing down. Despite a petition with over 3,500 signatures against its closure, the owner of the space refused to extend its lease. Dozens of fans and faithful customers gathered in the bookstore on Wednesday night to say their last goodbye.

Photo: CTK
On Wednesday night, the Fišer bookshop on Kaprova Street was packed full with people, who came to say goodbye and use the final opportunity to get a book from their favorite bookseller. The store, which also became famous due its role in the 1980’s comedy Vrchní, prchni, is closing down on December 24.

Established back in the 1930s by publisher Josef Hokr, the bookstore acquired its legendary status in the 1960s, when Bohumil Fišer took over. Under his management, it became the place where to look for books that couldn’t be found in any other bookshop in the city. At that time it also became known as ‘U Fišera’. After the Velvet Revolution, Mr. Fišer rented the store and worked there until his death in 2007.

While many of the city’s smaller bookshops were forced to close down in recent years due to competition from large booksellers, Fišer was never short of customers. Literary historian Martin C. Putna was one of them:

Martin C. Putna,  photo: CTK
“For me it meant 25 years of my life. I studied here in the vicinity, I was a teacher at the Philosophical faculty so I would stop by practically every day and knew all the employees and regular customers. So according to my perception, this bookstore is not just an institution but a living being with a soul.”

What made the bookstore so unique?

“It is hard to say. It may be its location, in the very center of Czech culture, between the philosophical faculty, the National library and Municipal library, all within the walking distance from here.

“And it was also the central bookstore where practically all major writers presented their books. There was a famous table of fame where dozens and dozens of writers signed their books. It lived to see Havel and Tigrid and Fulghum and practically all literary celebrities stopped by this place on their visit to Prague.”

Do you think that the closing down of this bookstore reflects a more general trend?

“The general trend is closing of little stores which is very bad for the country and for the city. This network of little independent stores was something which was typical for Prague.

Photo: CTK
“I am afraid the city is losing part of its atmosphere, especially here in Prague 1. We feel like this neighborhood is being stolen from us by the tourist agencies and this was one of the last bastions which still belonged to us.”

The current owners of the Fišer bookstore, Paseka publishing house, have already found new premises in the nearby Rybná Street, but the old customers say the bookstore will never be the same again.