Hotels

Oia

Imerovigli

Fira

Firostefani

Villages

According to the “Guardian”

The best bookstore in the world is located in Santorini

It was featured on the UK newspaper Guardian as “the best bookstore in the world”!

Since then, it is present on all lists of the most beautiful bookstores of the planet. In a few months, “Atlantis” is going to celebrate 10 years after its birthday. Now, it is known as another attraction in the beautiful Santorini...

The idea was had by Craig and Oliver, two American students that in 2002 had gone on vacations to the Cycladic Island. “When the books that we had with us were finished, we searched for a bookstore to buy some new ones. And when we finally didn’t find what we were looking for, we thought about... opening a bookstore ourselves, just like we wanted it!” recounts Craig Valzer, one of the initiators of the “Atlantis” as an idea.

“Were turned back to America, we finished our studies and began to organize our plan.”

At the end of 2003, the youngsters were ready to take action. They invited friends from England to their venture, including Mary Papagapiou, a Greek Cypriot woman who was born in Nicosia, but raised in London. She had just returned from a long trip to India, where she later made her studies and had recently worked in a bookstore in London, trying to find out what she wanted to do in her life.

“And then a girlfriend of mine told me about the project. I really liked the idea. Also, I was the only one who could speak Greek, so I could really help. And I said yes, I will come with you!” she says to us.

Inside the van that started from Cambridge and arrived to ...Santorini, except Craig, Oliver and Maria, were three more people: Chris, Tim and William. “Arriving in Santorini, we started looking for places to locate our dream. Gradually, while searching for an appropriate roof, we met the locals, who accepted us with great joy. Shortly after, we found a ruined building-cave in Oia, below the castle, and we fell in love with it... And the repair began...” Craig tells us. “We began to gather materials, anything we could find on the beaches or others that were offered to us by locals. We built shelves, partition walls, beds, and tables. Except a bookstore, Atlantis would also be our house. We even lifted a boat on the terrace and filled it with books!” Maria explains. “We had to visit the Tax Office, accountants, lawyers, bankers. A bit of paperwork, a lot of help, and we finally did it! People there believed in what we wanted to do and helped us a lot”, she adds.

The bookstore opened its gates in the spring of 2004. And it was just like that crazy group of friends from Cambridge dreamed it.

Customers: locals and tourists.

Books, festivals and events

On the shelves of “Atlantis” one can find mainly foreign language books, with an emphasis on literature and philosophy, but also many other titles that coexist harmoniously. Initially, customers were locals, but gradually its reputation was spread by word of mouth and tourists started entering. Moreover, every year festivals are taking place along with discussions and events. “Recently, we started our own publications, a whole different project. Small publications like postcards, from novels and stories that we all love. Those small booklets don’t add weight to the traveler’s suitcase and are a wonderful present”, Craig says to us. Like all businesses, the best bookstore in the world was also hit by the financial crisis in Greece. It was one of our most difficult years. The Atlantis was never making a great profit, what we cared for was mainly its costs, but during the crisis our bookstore was threatened to close. Then we asked for the help of our audience.

Response

We did crowd funding campaign, and the response was so great that the website that hosted the process interviewed Craig and Chris about it!” Maria explains. The next year, “Atlantis” will become 10 years old. “We are thinking about how to celebrate it”, Craig told us. The only sure thing is that a great feast will be set up for the wedding of Mary and Chris that will take place –where else? – On the bookstore’s roof!