8. Neighbourhood bookshops. The prescription-free antidepressant

The Ulmeiro was from the beginning a space anchored in neighborhood life, a community link for various social groups.
    It was this with the youth club, which combined theatre with cinema sessions on Saturday mornings, showing Charlot to the kids. With a football team, called UNICEF. And also with the daily interaction with neighbours, which led Lúcia Ribeiro to realize that the bookshop Ulmeiro acted as an antidepressant for many people.
    This reality was recognised by the local authorities (unanimous praise from all the parties represented in the Benfica Parish Council) and had as a corollary the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of Ulmeiro, in 1994.
    Ulmeiro continued to be a meeting place besides the resistance sessions, promoting in 2002 a guided tour of the Benfica of Lobo Antunes (in the cycle Viagens com Escritores [Travels with Writers], in partnership with the publisher Alma Azul) and with evenings like the cycle "Poetas Sem Rede" ["Poets Without a safety net"], in 2012, or by associating with Poesia no Parque [Poetry in the Park] (Castelo Branco, 2010).
    The irruption of fierce competition (largely unfair) - hypermarkets (1985), shopping centres Fonte Nova (1987) and Colombo (1997), bookseller concentration (Bertrand, 1993, FNAC, 1998) and publishing conglomerates (e.g. Porto Editora and Leya) – had financial repercussions and stimulated the search for alternative ways of intervention and sale, allowing it to get closer to its loyal readers and visitors but also to extend communication channels to a wider audience.
    Hence the establishment, in Almada, of Ulmeiro 2 Editores - Livreiros Lda., in the 1990s, with partners of an advertising company and which launched itself in a pioneering way in the segment of occasion books (remains of a collection). Hence, also, the attention to local book fairs (e.g. Ulmeiro 40 years, in 2009, and Feirinha da Ladra (little flea market) «Ulmeiro», in 2011) and the participation in fairs of other organisers, such as that of APEL. Or the pioneering option of selling used books on the internet, via social networks, since 2013.
    The closing of the commercial society and its replacement by the cultural association Espaço Ulmeiro Associação Cultural and Fólio Exemplar publisher, in 2010/11, pursued with consistency the main cultural objectives. It was also an act of resistance, like the formation of the Clube do Espaço Ulmeiro [Espaço Ulmeiro Club] (31/III/2014) and the co-authorship of a public petition in favour of bibliodiversity and of public policies regarding public reading (in 2018).


This web publication had the support of CHAM (NOVA FCSH/UAc), through the strategic project sponsored by FCT (UIDB/04666/2020). This work is funded by national funds through the FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P., under the Norma Transitória – DL 57/2016/CP1453/CT0062.


Vídeo Secção 8 | Livrarias de bairro: o antidepressivo livre de receita médica

Video documenting section 8 of the physical exhibition, open to the public in 2019.