The welcome sign is just a banner that reads: Books/Libros, the right key to enter a wonderful maze of paper.
Although small, the space in Elmhurst, Queens, is like a tapestry of books in Spanish whose four walls rest on a family atmosphere. It is like being transported to the grandfather’s attic searching for book-treasures: biographies, opera, theater, literature, poetry, esoteric, self-help and translations among others, these are some of the categories on display.
Amid the technological maelstrom where everything is within reach of a click, Barco de Papel is still an oasis that offers intimacy, a physical link to the book, the author and the bookseller. A link that will be lost with the multiplication of words .
Founder, Ramon Caraballo reflects on the irreversible escalation of the new emergent monopolies like Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
“The key to a community library is to find the difference of an ancient activity, to have access to their language, to listen to the loud voice of new authors whose egos are not as magnified to only identify with Manhattan. Here we expect them to hand on their talents to a community as rich as this,” says Caraballo.
“Although some authors stress in their national identity, –which could create sectarianism– we offer space for everyone with a business model based in the mission of cultural transfer on one hand and building bridges between the intellectual and labor local communities, on the other” said the native of Cuba.
The bookstore was born in 2003 with books for children and almost immediately it started its program “La hora del Cuento (The Story Hour)“, but with time it evolved gradually adjusting to new demands.
Now It offers presentations of books, plays and workshops in various disciplines.
The bookstore is also a portal for Latin poets and intellectuals of New York: here is where the literary publication Vecindad (The Neighborhood) was born.
Today In Barco de Papel work Carlos F Bedoya as webmaster, Paola Ortiz as event organizer and Ramon Caraballo as administrator.
This paper oasis, is visited by a mosaic of people and characters, from the mother with her children to find stories, to the Colombian of Medellin looking for El Libro Verde de Aragón (The Green Book of Aragon) to get closer to their Jewish-Sephardic roots.
Then amid the technological tide, Barco de Papel has managed to bring to a good port a chest full of Latin treasures.
Article by Silvia Siller for the magazine Pie Derecho No. 47. September 2014