The beginnings of Prospero’s Books is described in the article published in the then popular English language magazine – Tbilisi Pastimes. The year was 1998; our manager was pregnant with her first child – Saba. The big question was who would arrive first into the world, Prospero’s or Saba? In the end Prospero’s won by a few days. Today both are thriving and the manager is still our Executive Director. Being the first English language bookshop/café, not only in Georgia but the whole Caucasus region, made year one a full-on enterprise. We cut the ribbon at our launch, then looking over our shoulder at our first proud delivery of books - piled up on the floor, still with no shelves to put them on. Then, miraculously the shelves were finished and Prospero’s slowly evolved through its complex childhood of power-cuts, wild-west capitalism and Kafkaesque government bureaucracy. Until 2003 different taxation levels applied to different literary subjects. Fiction and science were exempt, but tax had to be paid on children’s and non-fiction books. All of our shipments had to be vetted by the Ministry of Culture book by book, just to certify which belonged to which subject and also trying to convince Customs that Shakespeare was fiction. Fortunately, those days are well gone.
We celebrated our 20th birthday last year, during which years our main shop has doubled in size, and we opened two new branches in Tbilisi. Below are some key moments in what seems like our epic history – in various forms.