the biggest little bookstore in Panama
David Dell, Volcan.
even cosmopolitan Panama City has so many English books in a single
may not normally rate as a tourist attraction, but visitors to Chiriquí
should not fail to stop at Bookmark – the biggest English-language
bookstore in Panama.
road from David to Boquete , in the little community of Dolega,
is the Book Mark, an unimposing place with a small gravel parking
area out front.
owner, Harold De Mun, has been running his crammed bookstore in
Panama for the last eight years. His claim of having over 25,000
new and used books is easily believable because, as you venture
deeper into his house, you keep finding room after room stacked
to the ceiling with all manner of books.
of the books came from the now defunct Canal Zone Library. He does
have a small Spanish section but, wonderfully, the majority of the
works are written for the linguistically challenged like myself.
best is always in the back.
Harold's assistant, Michael Ellis, showed me around the
store. In the front is a comprehensive selection of books on Panamanian
political history. Thankfully, the country is now one of the more
stable in Latin America, but it is always interesting to read about
the former dark and dangerous times.
owner was enjoying the midday siesta when I arrived, but did surface
later to show me the "back room."
is the place for true book aficionados as it contains hundreds of
out-of-print volumes and those holy grails of the literary world
- "first editions."
of the spines were aged and the titles could only be read from the
inside frontispiece but glancing though a random selection I quickly
saw the potential that lay on those overcrowded shelves.
Hal Mun among his treasures.
from gourmet to gardening
The selection in the rest of the store was all-encompassing,
to say the least. There were books on every subject an ex-pat could
possibly imagine from a bookstore in Panama, and quite a few on
subjects you couldn't imagine.
Michael or Harold can assist in shortening the search; they seem
to be able to direct you to the room or shelf or, in some cases,
directly to the book for which you are looking.
you meet someone with 25,000 books in his home, it begs the question:
"What is your favorite book or author?" Harold, who admits
doing graduate work in English literature, now says he doesn't do
a lot of reading. His favourite author? John le Carre.
the store was a grab-bag table with a lot of George Bush books.
Was this an indication of his political leanings? "Not at all,"
he said. To back this up he pointed to a shelf inside the store,
and in pride of place was the book, “Where's my Country Dude?”
written by Michael Moore.
back room, I spied and bought Hemmingway's “Farewell to Arms”.
My wife, ever the devourer of romance and escapist novels, scooped
up a few novels by Arthur Hailey and John Grisham.
was simply too much to see and scout on this one visit, so a return
is planned in the near future. I plan to scour the dark mysterious
labyrinth that is the "back room", A treasure awaits;
I can just feel it in my bones.
Harold De Mun, is not enjoying the best of health these days and
wishes to sell his literary goldmine. For those retirees that are
bored and looking for something to do, here is a chance to make
some money and, if you like reading – well 25,000 books should
keep you busy for a while.