The Paperback Exchange: A Fresh New Start

New owners, Gianluca Romeo and Icaro Rotunda, in the bookstore

“This bookstore, we could say, was like a series of fortunate events.” Icaro Rotunda and Gianluca Romeo took a leap of faith when they bought the Paperback Exchange bookstore (via delle Oche 4/r) at the beginning of May 2019. With no background in managing or owning a store, the two entrepreneurs have faced this challenge head on and have maneuvered their way into success.

After living in Montreal, Canada for a year, where his mother is originally from, Rotunda moved back to Florence in 2016, the city where he was born and raised. Although his love for Canada doesn’t falter, he felt as though he had to come back to his true home. Upon his return, he secured a job at the Paperback Exchange under the previous owners so he could make money while completing his studies in music and language.

Once Rotunda saw the for-sale sign, it sparked the sudden idea to buy the business (formerly owned by founders Emily Rosner and Maurizio Panichi for the past 40 years) and take it under his wing. He said that this decision was very unexpected, especially since he had no experience as a shop owner. Although the undertaking was large, Rotunda said that the transition from being an employee to being a proprietor was small. He already knew his way around and was familiar with the system; however, there was more he had to learn: how to work with the invoices, accountants, and to manage a business was and still is the hardest part about this new adventure, he said.

With new management comes development. The biggest change that will be made involves marketing and communication: a Facebook page and an Instagram account are in the works as well as a new website. Rotunda explains that the previous owners had a website, however, it was used infrequently. The business partners are working on making a new one, which will see many improvements and is projected to be launched in September. Although some changes are planned, Rotunda explains that they want to refrain from making many physical alterations to the premises because they want to keep it familiar to the customers who have been coming for years.  

In addition to improving communication, the new owners are planning many cultural events such as poetry, music, photography, and presentations that are to be held in a new open space that they have created in the store. (sierra case)