Historic Book Store in Malaga will Survive Devastating Fire

The book was taken out in 1957. Image: Photopin

THE director of Malaga’s famed book shop, Proteo, has vowed to reopen the store after a devastating fire reduced thousands of books to ashes.

The fire which broke out on May 13 destroyed Jesus Otaola’s stock, but he insists the beloved store in the historic heart of Malaga will return.
“We are left with the positive. The structure of the building is fine and we will be able to reopen,” Otaola, who began working in the book shop in the 1980s, told El Pais.
Proteo opened in 1969 when the Franco regime carefully monitored the sale of banned books. To begin with, Proteo operated as a children’s book shop but it covertly sold books the regime had deemed unacceptable.
The books were smuggled into Spain in the name of a company that did not exist in case the police discovered where the books were destined for. Proteo has overcome economic crises, attacks on the shop in the 1970s and the Covid-19 pandemic. “There is our experience of falling and getting up,” says Pilar Guerrero, one of the founders and president of the shop’s board of directors.
Preliminary reports suggest that fire was started by an electrical surge with flames starting on the shop’s first floor. A false ceiling protected an upper wooden deck and the remains of a 13th century wall have also survived although they are covered with smoke and soot.
Proteo continues to operate using a borrowed warehouse and computers and customers are showing their support with online purchases.
Oatola says he is ready to do “whatever it takes” to bring the shop back to life, and is set to get his hands dirty once they have permission to start clean-up operations.
“We cannot disappoint all the love we received and we will succeed. I only ask that you do not forget about us when we stop being news,” he added.


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Written by

Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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