It was a rainy day today in Cluj-Napoca and also a very cold one. So much so that one could not have been able to step outside without an umbrella. I was getting back to the bus station which corners the former Hubertus restaurant and I remembered a small detail.
The old empty Hubertus Restaurant in Cluj Napoca now shelters the former Diverta-University Bookstore and its grand opening was today. So I popped in to see how they managed to accommodate themselves in a vaulted building, much smaller than the former building, a symbol of the city’s intelligentsia.
I had browsed through endless books in the old facility more than 13 years ago while waiting for my exam results and now they closed it down because nobody buys books anymore, so rent could not be paid over there. And it struck me that we are still in a deep economic and moral crisis if we’re stuffing old restaurants with shelves full of books just to make place for a new “eBookstore” or even a Starbucks.
Well, I like touching books even if it’s in former restaurants and so I did over here too. The staff were incredibly welcoming (grand opening!) and made sure I was aware that all customers get a 10% discount the first 2 weeks. The new location is clearly not as attractive as the old one.
I still managed to get a discount on Julio Cortazar’s Libro de Manuel (in Romanian this time) and enjoy my mint candy warmly offered by the staff. Yes, I do like mint candies. They should offer hot tea too and get some more chairs inside, yet it already feels too crowded.
I like discounts in general in everything starting from clothes and finishing with home appliances. Yet discounts on new books in a former restaurant feel a bit as a violation of the sacred. Culture discounted and debased.
Cluj-Napoca has a yearly intake of over 80,000 students in several universities.
The city is also running for the European Capital of Culture Contest in 2021. Yet the landmark bookstore of Cluj is stuffed in a former restaurant. It’s nothing unusual when most of the people loud-speaking about culture in this city have barely read a book in their life. Way to go Cluj, good job!