First book store from Brazil exclusively for works written by women, a Cat Without Tail opens its doors to the public this Saturday, 29, at Avenida Amaral Gurgel, 338, in front of Minhocão. The initiative comes from Johanna Stein, a former model trained in Visual Arts who, even without knowing anything or anyone in the publishing market, decided to venture into a business whose model is in check.
If, in 2018, physical bookstores were responsible for 50 5% of publishers’ revenues, according to the Production and Sale Survey of the Brazilian Editorial Sector, in 2019 this index dropped to 41.6% and, in 2020, to 30%.
But she is optimistic – and the opening of new street bookstores is a movement that is taking place in the main cities of the world (although here, for now, there are more closings). Johanna believes that because she is not aware of the existing models, not knowing exactly how the other bookstores work, it is that Gato Sem Rabo already starts differently.
She had a professional consultancy, of course, but she understands that what will make the difference is precisely this other way of thinking. “Gato Sem Rabo is born out of a curatorship and the movement that exists and is led by readers – there is a growing demand for reading works by women and other perspectives. I believe that we are much closer to a movement for reading than to a bookshop business model “, says the new bookseller, who has just turned 30.
The name was taken from One Room Only, a text by Virginia Woolf from the late 1920s, and Johanna says that, for the collection, she considered “the writings of women and the crosses that this definition covers”. The objective, according to her, was to look at the production of the Brazilian publishing market from a perspective other than that of the privileged western white man.
“A look from these other perspectives: of women, dissident bodies, not binary, of the global South, mainly. The idea is to bring to the bookstore exactly what these cats without tails would be, all those animals that escape from the universal canon”, explains – and says that the publishing market has always privileged male authorship. With the bookstore, she hopes to help give these authors greater visibility.
But Gato Sem Rabo is not a niche bookstore. There are all genres and subjects there. Entering, the reader finds, on the left, poetry, fiction, short story and chronicle. Then there is a corner for the children. Another for generation Z, with young readings. In the sequence, art and books by artists and then a broader section, called Humanities. It is 65 m² and has about 1,700 titles by 650 writers published by almost 200 publishers. There will also be a café, and the idea is to hold conversations about books in person at the bookstore, when it is safer because of the pandemic.
It was supposed to be working, but the opening had to be postponed a few times. Since March, when we started talking about Gato Sem Rabo – the Babel column was the first to report on the new business -, the bookstore gained no less than 9 thousand followers on Instagram. In May, she started organizing these debates – biweekly and online. The first two “circuits” were about Virginia Woolf.
Last week, when she needed to postpone the opening again because the bookshelves were not ready, Johanna decided she would start serving the public via WhatsApp and was surprised by the demand on the first day. The first two books sold were Sara Gallardo’s Eisejuaz (1931-1988), published by Reliquary, and Ethics of Free Love: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships and Other Freedoms, by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton, edited by Elefante .
The bookstore will be open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 11 am to 5 pm. For those who prefer to receive at home, deliveries are made twice a week by Señoritas Courier.
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