As I posted yesterday, I visited the Dutch bookstore that is housed in a church. Since it is quite a drive, we used the occasion to escape the city. We booked a hotel and off we went! The first thing on our ‘to-do-list’ was going to this store. As promised, I wrote a short story about the bookstore and my thoughts about it. Click on ‘more’ to read the story.
Books as a religion
Hidden in a little street next to the Vrijthof square in the Dutch city of Maastricht is the Dominican church. At least, it was in the past. Now, the over 800 year old building attracts worshippers of a different kind. The altar has been replaced by a modern coffee corner. The bible is no longer the most popular book in the house. For reader, it’s mass all day. Every day.
Last weekend I finally had the chance to go down to the province of Limburg and visit this bookish wonder. There was no sign of the serene atmosphere that must have been there centuries ago. I did notice that people kept their voices down a little more then in a ‘normal’ bookstores. Even the coffee corner was unusually quite. Not even a stir in a cup of coffee broke the silence.
After I came over the immenseness of the building, the first thing that caught my eye was the steel structure. In the middle of the church stands an enormous flat of steel. A modern two floor high apartment that only houses books. I am still not sure if I like the contrast of the modern steel with the old building. The idea of the floors is quite ingenious, but it made the bookstore quite cold and uninviting. A great feature is the old tombstone in the floor near the newspaper stand. And the ceilings. Wow! During the restoration they uncovered some spectacular paint work. The building itself has no lack of character, that is a fact.
The pieces of art that are sold in the building are a different story. The assortment of the bookstore was not what I expected as well. There were a lot of genres, but I could not fail to notice that there was not a wide variety of titles. This could be due to the fact the bookstore is owned by Selexyz, a chain of bookstores across the country. On the ground flour, tables displayed the latest and best sold books. These tables were quite messy, which made it hard to find something.
My overall verdict is that the bookstore looks amazing. The ancient building makes it really special. The sloppy presentation and the small assortment within the genres let the bookstore down. The shop is fantastic for architecture enthusiasts, but a let down for the bibliophiles. I have no doubt that the crowds will love this place, though.
Selexyz Domincanen, Dominkanerkerstraat 1, Maastricht