A home for imagination: The Seeseiten bookshop in Seestadt Aspern
As an extended living room for readers, the bookshop now also offers coffee and cake.
Convinced that Vienna still had room for a great bookshop, Bettina Wagner founded Seestadt Aspern’s Seeseiten bookshop in 2015 with Johannes Kößler – and it has been a smashing success. Now the bookshop has expanded with the help of a grant from the Vienna Business Agency: The store now includes a small café as well as more space for events and to "hang out".
Opening a physical bookshop in this day and age was pretty brave, wasn't it?
It was always clear to me that the bookshop in the 21st century is far from extinct. I already had a business partner (he just didn't know about it yet) in my head. The right location was found by a stroke of luck (a long, beer-fueled evening with my ex-neighbours, who were pioneers to the new Seestadt Aspern neighborhood and said: we need a bookshop there). My business partner Johannes was convinced after just three beers. We are convinced that reading is not only the most beautiful hobby, but also the most useful.
It took us nine months to go from idea to the opening ceremony.
How did the bookshop get through the Corona crisis?
After the announcement of the first lockdown, we were naturally shocked. The two days leading up to the lockdown were like December 23rd around here – busy! Then our internet orders exploded, we had to rebuild all our logistics, order cardboard boxes. Everyone who had time and resources was put on bicycle duty so that our customers could get their books.
After that, it was clear to us: if our readers couldn't come to the bookshop, we had to get into their living rooms. We created the Seeseiten Literaquarium and broadcast daily from the bookshop at 12.15 - presenting books and reporting live. In the evening at 17.00 we had the live Seeseiten Miniliteraquarium, where we not only read a picture book or a story to the little ones, but also presented it in a play. Both were a complete success!
The bookshop must have been a success, because you’ve grown! What happened and how were you supported?
We need a bigger office to make room for the growing team and to process larger customer orders. As we want to be an extended living room for our clientele, a small café with coffee and tea and homemade pastries was a great addition. And we needed space for our young readers. We wanted to expand the games section and also offer children the opportunity to try out board games.
It is fantastic that our project is supported by the Business Agency.
Are all your team members passionate book lovers?
We choose our people very carefully. Johannes and I think it’s enormously important that they are passionate about books. Our clientele really appreciates our advice. Johannes probably reads more than I do, but one book a week for me is a minimum. Usually I read more, and on holiday I read one book a day (if it doesn't have more than 350 pages). We are a great team and we appreciate it when our employees come to us with new ideas. We have an open ear and our youngsters are worth their weight in gold - they have a completely different approach to new media and of course we use this know-how.
What do the people of Seestadt Aspern like to read most - are there any trends?
Since we moved into the Seestadt Aspern with the first residents, we had the incredible advantage of designing or redesigning our selection together with them. For us, literature is a focal point, but it was clear to us that crime and fantasy novels are increasingly in demand, so we made more space available for them. Yes, and the little ones, who (inevitably) get bigger, we make a lot of room for their books - after all, they are our future.
Services of the Vienna Business Agency
- Funded through the programme Nahversorgung (local amenities) in 2022
Status: August 2020