Used bookstores are scarce in Poland. Bookstores with used English books are even harder to find. When I found out about one in Warsaw, I had to check it out. Located 8 min walk from Metro Wierzbno on Puławska street we met up with Paweł Woźniak to ask him why he decided to open an English bookstore.

Hello. So tell us what gave you the idea to open an English bookshop?

Hi, I first thought about it when I was living in Whitehorse, Canada. They have a place there called a Multicultural Center where people come to have English classes or just socialize. This place really made my stay in Yukon wonderful. I would often go there after work, read a book and talk with people from all over the world. One day I waited for my classes and thought that It might be amazing to do something similar back in Warsaw. So it was the very beginning. After that, I traveled a bit in the US and visited many libraries and bookstores on my way. Back in Warsaw, I realized that with my financial capacity it is not possible to rent a big place. So right now it is just a small bookstore. Still, I have recently put some cushions on the stairs hoping that people would read books there and perhaps have interesting conversations.

Why did you want to collect and sell English books?

10 years ago when I graduated from high school there was no worse English student in my class than me. Then I started to read and listen to audiobooks and slowly my skills got better and better. Books helped me a lot, so naturally, I feel like sharing it with other people. Also when I travel I usually carry a book so in my mind, it is associated with amazing moments.

Where do you get the books from?

Most of my books I import from the UK and also from time to time people donate them or I buy them for a very symbolic price from my customers.

What prices can we expect to pay for a book?

Right now the prices range from 3 to 9 PLN. It used to be 6 PLN per book but I decided to change it in order to improve quality of the titles in stock.

With technology as it is today, are there still many people who read books?

From my perspective, there are still hundreds of people of all ages who read books. I also think that with time people will get tired of modern technology in their lives and books will be getting more popular.

You mentioned living abroad and traveling. Where have you been?

I lived in Canada for over a year in 2015/2016. After that, I traveled a little bit in the US and returned to Poland. It was an extremely valuable experience. FOr example, in the US every couple of days I visited a different library or a bookstore what helped me to develop
the idea.

I’m guessing that you read many books. If you had to guess, how many books have you read?

I thought that I had read a lot of books but now after I met some of my customers I know that It’s simply not true. I might have read a couple hundred of books maximum. I still love books though.

I heard you would also like to organize some gatherings?

I would love to and still think about it. Hopefully, I’ll find time and energy to do that. The bookstore is a bit too small for that purpose which is the main obstacle at the moment.

Warsaw is a diverse City. Which nationalities visit your store mostly?

That’s true Warsaw becoming a more diverse city. There are a lot of Poles coming, of course, but also people from Great Britain, US, India, China, Ukraine and from other countries. It is difficult to keep track though.

Can I buy your books online?

Yeah, most of our books you can find listed on our website and buy there. The exception is children’s books which are not listed yet.

How do you select your books? Do you sometimes search for a particular book?

I try to have books that people are interested in. Sometimes I order pallets of mixed books and I don’t really know what titles are in. Sometimes I try to get specific titles. I try to find a good balance between quality and price.

What type of books are your best sellers?

Relatively recent best sellers like John Green’s Books or Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I also sell a lot of classics or Booker Prize-winning books. And of course, there are a lot of people interested in children’s books.

What is your favorite ever book you have read?

I guess it would be the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.

What is your current favorite book that you currently stock?

I really like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn because the ending was a great surprise to me.

Do Polish people buy books in English also to perfect their English skills?

Yes, they do. At least half of my customers are Poles who read also in English.

Finally, describe in three words.

Thank you. It has been a pleasure to speak with you too. So the three words would be friendly, cheap, and simple.

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