Ler Devagar is a bookshop (for new and second-hand books), library, temporary exhibition gallery, permanent exhibition gallery for ‘Objectos Cinemáticos’ by Pietro, auditorium, ‘Ouvir Devagar’ music shop (for Lusophone music CDs), restaurant (Malaca Too), cake shop (‘O Bolo da Marta’) and bar (‘Beber Devagar’).
Ler Devagar began in 1999, in Bairro Alto in Lisbon, where it was housed in the former National Lithography, and introduced a new concept of bookshops as meeting places, a space for debating ideas, for readings, for artistic expression and for the buying and selling of books. At that time, the Bairro Alto Ler Devagar was considered by the Portuguese and international press to be one of the best and most complete bookshops in the world.
In 2005, Ler Devagar – which, meanwhile, had founded the ‘Nouvelle Librarie Française’ with Marie Pierre Delsol in what is now the French Institute of Lisbon, ‘Ler Devagar-Artes’ in the Culturgest, and ‘Ler Devagar-Cinema’ in the Cinemateca Portuguesa – was forced to close the space in Bairro Alto. It installed itself, temporarily, in the ZDB Gallery, and in the Rua da Rosa (also in Bairro Alto), hosting with it ‘Eterno Retorno’, the small second-hand philosophy bookshop which had been just a few metres from Ler Devagar and which had meanwhile closed.
In 2007, together with Eterno Retorno, Ler Devagar built the ‘Fábrico Braço de Prata’ (FBP), on the site of the headquarters of an old armaments and war materials factory where 12 rooms were installed with a bookshop, galleries, concert rooms and bars; outside there was also a terrace and gardens.
In 2008, Ler Devagar was invited to take up home in the then ‘Alcântara Cultural Industries Pole – Lx Factory’.
On the 23rd April 2009, doors were opened on that which would come to be considered one of the 20 most beautiful bookshops in the world (or of the top 10 if the selection is limited to bookshops in restored buildings).
That same year, Ler Devagar decided to close its ZDB and Cinemateca bookshops, and to temporarily abandon the FBP bookshop, concentrating its main activity in the LX Factory Ler Devagar.
The LX Factory Ler Devagar occupies a large space, with nearly 600m2 of floorspace, 4 levels and a 14-metre high ceiling. It has a collection of over 40,000 new titles and nearly 10,000 used.
The arrival of Ler Devagar proved to greatly help in placing the LX Factory on the cultural and tourist map of Lisbon. Different media, from within Portugal and abroad, from newspapers to magazines, guidebooks, books, radio, television, websites, etc. have made reference to the bookshop as one of city’s, and indeed country’s, best cultural projects of recent years.
In 2011, Ler Devagar joined forces with the ‘Pensão Amor’ project, creating in that building, in Cais do Sodré, Ler Devagar.Com Amor – Portugal’s most complete erotic bookshop, with nearly 2000 second-hand titles.
In 2013, Ler Devagar proposed and promoted the creation of a “city of books” in the town of Óbidos. Together with the children’s bookshop’ História com Bicho’, and with assistance from the council of Óbidos, 8 bookshops were opened in old churches, schools and markets, in museums and in art galleries. Three new bookshops are due to open in 2014: in a wine-cellar, in an art gallery and in a school, thus completing the first phase if the “Literary Town of Óbidos” project. The first of the Literary Town’s literary festivals are also due to be held in 2014.