Sharjah helps restore iconic Italian bookshop gutted in fire

Located in Bologna, Italy, the Giannino Stoppani Bookshop is considered one of the world’s leading institutions for children’s literature

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A Staff Reporter

Published: Sat 5 Nov 2022, 5:49 PM

Last updated: Sat 5 Nov 2022, 5:59 PM

Sharjah World Book Capital has donated 50,000 euros (Dh182,000) to the restoration fund of an iconic Italian bookshop that was gutted in a massive fire in May this year.

Located in Bologna, Italy, the Giannino Stoppani Bookshop is considered one of the world’s leading institutions for children’s literature.

It was founded in 1983 by Simona Comelli, Grazia Gotti, Tiziana Roversi, Silvana Sola and Giampaola Tartarini — five ambitious women who specialised in literature for young children while studying at the University of Bologna.

“When I heard about the fire at Giannino Stoppani, I knew that we as a publishing community needed to rally around the store in order for it to take up its important work once again," said Bodour Al Qasimi, chair of the Sharjah World Book Capital.

Over the years it has become one of the primary consultants of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF) and has been responsible for curating its “International Book Shop” which finds and promotes the best children’s books from around the world.

But beyond its important links with BCBF, the shop is an important academic and cultural touchstone for literature and publishing across Italy, and beyond.


When fire broke out earlier this year at the exquisite bookshop located on Palazzo Re Enzo, shockwaves were felt across the publishing community. The bookshop – and its more than 39,000 volumes saw severe damage.

Sharjah World Book Capital, led by Bodour Al Qasimi, immediately recognised the importance of Giannino Stoppani as a globally important literary institution, and appreciated what its loss would mean to the global publishing community.

The organisation was inspired to reach out quickly, and through friends in the publishing sector, it has been in close contact with the owners offering invaluable practical, logistical, moral — and crucially, financial assistance.


"I am delighted that Sharjah World Book Capital has been able to offer its backing as the store strives to get back on its feet. I would like to thank Marcella Terrusi, the University of Bologna professor, who facilitated the contact and communication with the owners of Giannino Stoppani Bookshop," Al Qasimi said.

The shop’s owners are now fighting to revive Giannino Stoppani, to raise further funds to fully restock its shelves.

Work has already begun on this with the 27,980 books that were only partially affected by the fire being sent to specialists for repairs and sanitization – a costly undertaking.

But thanks to the tremendous support the store has received and the concerted efforts made by staff and the wider publishing community, Giannino Stoppani has been able to partially reopen only 150-days after the fire – with the rescued books already making back onto the shelves. However, an extensive amount of actions and work remains to be done in order for the store to fully reopen.

Expressing her gratitude for the assistance they have received, Giannino Stoppani’s co-owner Silvana Sola said: "The support we have had from the community has meant the world to us. We are truly and deeply honoured and want to thank you all for this, for the kind words about our work, and for the international commitment to children's book culture. This help has been an essential to us, and we feel you all close by our side."

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