What topic you are looking for? Talking books at Topics Berlin
By Sarah Luisa Santos . May 5, 2015
I must say that the first year I was here in Berlin I had a hard time finding books in the languages I know how to read. At the time my German was non-existent, Portuguese books are a rarity here and English ones are still a minority on the shelves of most bookstores.
I know what you’re thinking… “but we are in Germany” and all, but since Berlin is such an international city, it’s always nice to be able to find books in a wide range of languages.
So that being said, I am always happy to know new places with a wide range of books, like Topics Berlin.
Amir, one of the partners of Topics, explained to me where their concept comes from.
The name Topics comes from how we organize the space. As you can see, each box (the books are inside boxes) is one topic. Every topic is marked by a blue cover book, and in the back of this cover we have a little text about what the topic means.
Right now we have about 40-45 topics in the shop. But we are planning on having 80 within the next 2 months. We hope people will come here and say ‘WT*!’, we want people to be overwhelmed and spend hours here. That’s what we want.”
Topics opened a month ago, and Amir and Doron, the other partner and actual founder, are friends from their homeland, Israel, and reconnected after both ended up having moved to Berlin. Their lasting friendship made it easier to run the business together, and also to select the books they sell, which are all handpicked by them two.
We have everything when it comes to topics, from amnesia to musicians, or here, even female detectives! We have no traditional genres as topics (like science fiction or romance…), forget about that!
We chose instead a more intuitive way of dealing with books. For example, we have a topic about forgiveness or this other one that I also like, certain years, with only books which have a year as a title. Plus, in every topic, there are different kinds of books, like comic books, fiction, non-fiction, photography, children’s books, everything related to that topic.”
The shop has a plain- and simply-organized interior. All books are in boxes, and on the right side there is a few places where people can sit and have a coffee, always on the house.
As I said, we want people to come here, stay for hours, sit, drink a coffee, and talk books with us. Me and Doron are such geeks and we thought about what we could offer people in this time of Amazon and Ebay, where it is so easy to buy a book. So, we decided that what we can offer is our take on things. In the end, the shop has our sense of humor, and I think people can really enjoy it and understand that.”
As I looked around, the shop has indeed very interesting topics like suicidal writers and loneliness. Of course, prostitution and parties also have their own boxes here (let’s not forget we are in Berlin).
Though the shop is not traditionally organized, people manage to easily find the books. We kind of follow a hashtag system more or less (laughs).
In the end, it is a very funny experience. Plus, when you are too ashamed to go to science fiction section in a regular bookshop, or look up for a children’s book, here you can just, whatever, it is a book, enjoy it!”
As for the language, Amir said they are specialized in English titles but, of course, by demand it is always possible to order books in other languages.
He also told me that in the shop’s back room is their publishing house, Topics Press, for comic books. Their first project is set to be released next autumn – an anthology of horror stories from all over the world.
As we both are writers, we want to have a space for discussions and the exchange of ideas and, of course, spread our love for books.”
Topics Berlin also hosts events each month.
Topics Berlin is located at Weserstrasse 166, Neukölln, Berlin.