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Libreria Le Notti Bianche, Vigevano. A bookstore grounded in Vigevano

Encouraging the participants to discover books that they would not choose. Ludovica Giuliani talks about her activity in a city that is reference for North Italy lands

Ludovica Giuliani and Libreria Le Notti Bianche inception

When she was eighteen, Ludovica Giuliani moved to Milan from her hometown of San Benedetto del Tronto to study contemporary literature. During her time at university, she worked for three years at a bookstore (now closed) situated in Vigevano. This experience initiated her first steps as a bookstore owner. Ludovica then pursued a masters in history and culture of the editorial system. Then she interned for four months at a publishing house called Il Castoro. Finally she worked at a press office for some time and collaborated with a couple of newspapers. She decided to move from Milan to Vigevano, with the idea of establishing her own bookstore. The decision to open Le Notti Bianche in Vigevano came from the absence of an independent bookstore in the town.

Group readings at the bookstore

Every book in the store (10,000 titles) selected by Ludovica, is based on her literary tastes. Ludovica states, her objective is to «mix the requests that readers can make with a proposal from independent publishers and lesser known authors». One of the features of Le Notti Bianche is that Ludovica organizes group readings. «These consist of a fictional reading group; a reading group on the adaptation from book to film (cinebook); a non-fiction group; ‘the dreamers’ composed of people who follow the group on social media; and a group organized in collaboration with the local library on the evolution of women’s literature».

Book selection at Libreria Le Notti Bianche

Ludovica details her criteria for the selection of books to discuss in Le Notti Bianche’s group readings. She states that she chooses books «based on two aspects: quality and discovery». She prefers to avoid assigning celebrated books. «The idea is to encourage the participants to discover books that they would not choose». Ludovica organizes the promotional activities herself, without relying on external promoters. According to her, the customers are women, between the ages of twenty and sixty. She describes the customers: their interests have not changed since Le Notti Bianche first opened. However they have become conscious of the activities and the profiles of the publishing houses, authors and series. «Today Italian literature is experiencing a phase of prosperity. There are young authors, it is worth keeping an eye on».

Lampoon, Piazza Ducale in Vigevano
Piazza Ducale in Vigevano. Image Aldo Cavini Benedetto

Matteo Salvini book case at Le Notti Bianche

A few years ago, Le Notti Bianche was at the center of a social media fury when supporters of the right-wing politician Matteo Salvini complained. His new book Secondo Matteo was not in stocking at Le Notti Bianche. When one of Salvini’s followers requested to purchase his book, they told him that if he wished, he could have placed an order through the bookstore and collect it in a few days. Ludovica’s response was manipulated by Salvini’s supporters who accused her of censoring his book and insulted her on social media. Ludovica explains that the bookshop has never had a politics section, and it does not stock books written by politicians.

Libri da Asporto (Take-away Books) organization

With more than sixty-thousand books published every year in Italy, she can stock a finite number of works in her bookshop and has to follow a selection process. The pandemic has taken the world by surprise. Le Notti Bianche reacted by organizing shipments and home deliveries. This was made possible thanks to Libri da Asporto (Take-away Books). An organization that cuts shipping costs for the customers of independent bookstores. These costs are free under a threshold for the customer and are divided between publisher and bookseller. This set up allowed Le Notti Bianche to create an online bookshop; with a selection of their titles and enabled them to ship. The bookstore staff made home deliveries and organized a festival in September. This is to say Supercali: a festival on the adaptation from the book to the film.

Le Notti Bianche

Via del Popolo, 8, Vigevano, Pavia, Italy

Situated in the center of Vigevano, Le Notti Bianche is the brainchild of Ludovica Giuliani. Opened in October 2014, the store has four rooms. There readers can find newspapers and a section on suggestions from the bookseller. Through an arch, readers proceed to the fiction section, with a living room ambience that contains an armchair. In the other rooms, stock covers subjects of science fiction, sociology, cinema, fantasy, history, cooking, graphic novels and gardening. There is a room dedicated to children up until the age of fourteen.

Enrico Chhibber

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

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