The book belongs to the one who read it, no matter where it has been acquired, in a bookstore, an underpass or on the internet.
The 20th century genius of Armenian poetry Yeghishe Charents loved all books "whether old or new". Russian novelist Maxim Gorky called books “my universities”. Many modern bookshops and retailers work so anyone can purchase new and old books, study at these "universities".
In the years of the Soviet Union, there was a huge network of state bookstores in Armenia, not only in the capital, but also in the provinces and in distant villages. However, the bookstores had many empty shelves, comparably huge numbers of copies were sold only by prior record, or simply weren’t enough. Not everyone could acquire exactly what he wanted. The incomprehensible and illogical censorship also exerted a negative force over the book market - not every book could be published or sold.
Indeed, today the number of bookstores (especially the "classic" ones) has decreased. Today there are no more than 3 dozens of bookstores and book markets in Yerevan. However, these bookstores offer any desired book, whether it is new, old, rare or an international bestseller. The book market is flexible; there are many publishing houses. If there is a demand for any book (a training manual or a dictionary), professional publishers will immediately republish it and make 0available for buyers.
The bookstores "Noyan Tapan", "Bookinist", "Book World" and "Bureaucrat" are located in the most central, favorite and familiar areas of Yerevan - Republic Square, Mashtots Ave., Saryan St., which are beloved not only by the citizens of Yerevan but also by guests and tourists of the city. These bookstores offer a big variety of literature: books by contemporary writers issued either by state order or by private publishers, books in Armenian, Russian and English languages, imported from the Russian Federation, from the CIS states and Great Britain. A broad selection of books of desired category, from narrow specialization textbooks to recently published international bestsellers. There are also a constantly increasing number of people, who use internet services to order and acquire books.
At the newly opened bookstore "Bureaucrat" (a clothing store was converted into a bookstore in 2010), art specialists can find literature on photography, painting, films, theater, design and luxurious albums. They also sell audio books in Russian, English and Armenian language. Five years ago, the "Gratun" bookstore was opened in Malatia-Sebastia district of Yerevan to serve the needs of local book-fanciers.
Unfortunately, fiction literature holds only a small amount of space in these bookstores. Thousands of books are published every year by state order or private publishers. This heavy flow of contemporary literature makes the situation even more confusing for the buyer. Booksellers confirm that contemporary Armenian literature is sold with great difficulty (prose a little better than poetry).
Besides bookstores, for two resent decades many booksellers started working in the underpasses of Yerevan, forming interesting seller-buyer traditions. In the beginning, these booksellers were accepted negatively, but now the situation has changed. Over the last twenty years, a unique cultural center has been created in these underpasses due to the wide range of literature and support from intelligent people. This resembles the antique booksellers in Paris, along the river Seine.
One of the greatest 20th century American prose writers, William Saroyan confessed his tender affection for books: "I love privacy, being alone, and the connection to all of the people who have ever writtem".
Unfortunately, in the 21st century, people truly read very little and not only in Armenia. The book market in the USA went down by 27% in 2011. It is the same situation in Europe.
In 2012, the attention of the world’s publishers and readers will be fixed on Yerevan as the World Book Capital, and there is much to be done to increase books’ role in society. Books must become available to the public and we must recreate the tradition of books’ purchasing and presenting.
"The house without books cannot give birth to a writer. To write and create literature, one must have a close connection with libraries, books, traditions"