In the central area of Recife, close to two busy avenues, Guararapes and Dantas Barreto, a square overflows with culture, precisely because it houses a used book market with 19 used bookstores. Known as Praça do Sebo, the space turns 40 this August.
Visiting Recife’s used bookstores is an experience of living the city on the sidewalks, in alleys and alleys that hide precious treasures. Therefore, clients also have a specific profile and an empathetic relationship with sebistas. “Eye-to-eye contact with the customer and he gets there, says ‘I have no idea what I’m looking for’ and you go in search with him. Take information from him to see a style he likes to read and often you are not only the salesperson, you are a psychologist too. Believe me!” says bookseller Cátia Sales, who has worked at the site for 23 years. “There are clients who have been my clients for over 20 years, who he bought for his children; their children are already graduated and married and are coming to buy for their grandchildren”, he concludes.
There are customers who walk around the square almost every day, just to have a look, attracted by the variety of publications in the place. “There is variety, because there are textbooks, paradidactic books, there are higher education books. I myself am always looking for things that interest me here, understand? I think it’s a very interesting space, even within the Recife region”, believes nursing technician Marcelo Wilson dos Santos.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary, the booksellers applied to the Recife City Council for the square to be named after the Pernambuco writer Liêdo Maranhão, who used to frequent the place and wrote about sebistas in some of his works. Severino Augusto, who has worked in the square since its inauguration in 1981, the oldest bookseller in the space today, still remembers the author’s visits. “He always came here, it was ‘Augusto, Augusto’. He treated me very well, it was really good, and he promoted it. ‘Want some book, my book, go to Augusto, Augusto has it, Augusto has it’”, he says. “He liked the people! He didn’t like cars, his business was buses; his business was people. The São José Market, vixe maria, when he arrived there would already be a corner reserved for Liêdo”, concludes Augusto.
Despite four decades of history, the square suffers from structural, security and little publicity problems. “There are people who pass by and don’t know. There are people who ‘but, boy, I didn’t know there was this here’ and he’s already 40 years old. We really need this, more attention from the City Hall, reform, more security,” said Augusto
The commemoration that sebistas want is to have the square’s official recognition as a space to encourage culture and which is part of the city’s history. “What we really wanted was this differentiated look with Praça do Sebo in these 40 years, which would not go forgotten, you know? That people look at the square with different eyes, that they see that there is great potential for education, leisure and culture there. Everything is there!” wishes the sebist Cátia Sales
The Brasil de Fato team contacted the Recife City Hall, but did not send a response until the last update of this article.
Edition: Vanessa Gonzaga and Monyse Ravena