Funny what a little wine, a sunset, and a Greek island in the heart of the Aegean Sea can do. It can inspire you to change your life. And that’s exactly what a week one spring in 2002 did for Oliver, Craig and Maria – the owners of Atlantis Books on the island of Santorini.
Back in London – Craig and Oliver began “percolating” different ideas about what they wanted to do on Santorini. The island didn’t have a bookstore – so they decided they were going to open one. They got a number of friends together, saved money and rented a van they named “Danny”.
On New Years Day 2004, the team packed Danny and traversed a continent and a few weeks later landed in Oia of Santorini. Soon they found a building facing west, downed some lusty swigs of Irish whiskey and signed the lease. They then found a dog and a cat, opened a bank account, filled the shop with books and opened for business.
Since then Atlantis Books has become a local landmark in Oia and an international attraction. Food, music and literary festivals are held regularly as well as film screenings and writer’s reading events on the terrace. There is a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles to choose from in Greek, English, Spanish, Italian, German, French and Dutch. On bookshelves the owners boast proudly they made themselves you can find anything from poetry, philosophy to some interesting, off the beaten path self help books including a volume called “How to Mount Your Own Fish Trophies”.
In a globalized economy when small, independent book stores are being devoured by colossal chains and online stores it is a hopeful message when you hear of the few that got away. And Atlantis Books was one of them and as of 2016 – it is considered by National Geographic as the best book store in the world.