Eine Bücherkette: a chain of books

Every time I go to Düsseldorf, I visit my friend Rudolf’s bookstore, Literatur bei Müller. I’ve been going to the store since it opened, when I was 18. But I’ve been friends with Rudolf since 1993, when I lived in France and would come to visit Düsseldorf. I would go to whatever readings they had and then join the colorful crew afterwards.

But on this visit, things were different. The bookstore has moved. Since 2001, Rudolf and Selinde Böhm (his wife and business partner) have been in discussions with the city of Düsseldorf to do something with the Heinrich Heine Haus, the birthplace of the author. It housed a bar in the middle of the Düsseldorf Alstadt. In February, es war so weit, they were finally there: they opened the new space around the corner from the old, with a minimal selection of books. Having two locations proved difficult. Business was unusually light. They had to pay rent on two locations and support them both with staff. In July, they planned to move to the new location on Bolkerstrasse.

Rudolf said that there were two camps of people about the whole move. Some were against it, “Why move? This place is so cozy.” Others wanted to help. They decided they needed an action, something to take on the offer from help, and to guide the skeptics into the new place.

So they created a Bücherkette–a chain of books–on a warm Sunday morning two weeks back. It’s like a fire brigade with water, only they passed boxes of books. 140 people lined up in the Altstadt. All kinds of people… old friends of the bookstore, cultural luminaries in Düsseldorf, the media, bystanders who wanted to take part.


The very last thing they moved was a gigantic copy of Finnegan’s Wake. That’s what you see in the top corner at the new store.


Ever since this opening ritual, things are going swimmingly for the Buchhandlung. I’ve never seen Rudolf so happy.

The new space is stunning, lovely with its references to the old store but so spacious, so possible to really enjoy the books. Philosophy and theory still hold an elevated position at the back of the store, but now it’s easier to get the lay of the land and see all that there is in the store. And that Andreas Gursky print! But please– visit the pictures I took (including the old ones).

Welcome home, Selinde Böhm and Rudolf Müller! I’ll bet that Heinrich Heine is very pleased to have you.