Home Bookselling Selling books, a friendly business enterprise for Argentinian homeless people

Selling books, a friendly business enterprise for Argentinian homeless people


By Aitor Pereira

Buenos Aires, Jul 13 (EFE) .- Every day Carlos Sotelo wakes up in a porch on Florida Street in Buenos Aires and, in the morning, he organizes his collection of books for pedestrians who walk around, a number always growing catalog thanks to donations and the work of urban recyclers.

As Argentina’s economic crisis makes more and more people homeless – around 7.8% of its population currently live on the streets – selling street books has become more crucial than ever for some.

Sotelo has been selling literature on the same street corner in the capital for two decades.

“Some acquaintances have started to offer me books, every day they come by and see me. They started giving gifts and people started helping, ”he says.

“I also buy from recyclers. There are a lot of people who throw away books because their shelves are full, so they throw them away and I buy them on the cheap.

Its good location and prices, he says, allow it to sell around 40 books every day.

Pedestrians crowd Florida Street during the day, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, but the area becomes deserted at night, making Carlos more vulnerable to theft.

“I make a mound over there with the books, cover them with a blanket and wrap them tightly,” he told Efe. “I sleep there, and if I feel like someone wants to steal I tell the police, they always protect me, they’re nice around here.”

Colombian writer Gabriel García Marquez is “by far” the bestseller in his humble local bookstore, with national classics like Borges and Cortazar.

Homeless booksellers like him are dotted around the city of Buenos Aires, selling second-hand books in tourist or pedestrianized places, like the neighborhood of Palermo, where Martín Sánchez runs a bookstore around the corner.

At Martín, customers set the price of the books themselves.

“No one gives less than 100 pesos ($ 1), they always give,” he says.

His book catalog has been built exclusively on donations, which is why he feels he can’t put a price on it.

He has been sitting in this corner for 17 years and selling books, next to a church which allows him to store his collection at night.

“I am passionate about Socrates, Socrates’ death and the correspondence he left behind, I now know him by heart,” Martín says of his own favorite literature. “I am shocked that they killed a man who held the truth.” EFE

apr / lv / jt