Photo Book Corner is located at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and is dedicated exclusively to photography books.
It is located in an old tobacconist’s shop, which sold newspapers and magazines, right next to the Under The Cover shop – specialised in renowned international magazines, many of them with an artistic side. These spaces almost complement each other, as Rui Ribeiral, the person in charge of Photo Book Corner, says.
As an “excuse to leave college”, Rui Ribeiral took a Photography course at Ar.Co in the 90s. He didn’t intend to be a photographer, but it was an art that he loved and wanted to discover more about. At the same time, he worked in a record shop and his interest in music grew.
It was in the music industry that he started working, creating his own label in 2005, Mbari Musica. It was the project with which he was for 15 years – when streaming services like Spotify began to appear, he left the area and began to dedicate himself to the sale of photography books.
Since the end of the last decade, when there was a boom of interest in books of the genre, Rui Ribeiral was closely following the news, much through specialized blogs, mostly American. It didn’t take long before he opened his own online shop in 2012.
Over time, he became a reference in what he describes as a “super niche”. “There are only a few thousand people in the world who regularly buy books like this. It’s an area that has a lot to do with collecting, limited editions for a specialized audience”.
As the audience was small, Photo Book Corner has always been designed for the international market – hence the website and social networks are in English. The idea of opening a physical space has always been present, but it has never been a priority.
In November of last year he finally started looking for a space in the city that could host Photo Book Corner – the idea was not just to be a shop, but a work space of his own, where he could also meet people. A few weeks later he passed by Rua Marquês Sá da Bandeira and noticed that this place was available for rent. It was necessary to do a series of works and the pandemic and the consequent general confinement got in the way. Thus, the Photo Book Corner was inaugurated discreetly in June
Most of the items are on sale between 40 and 50 euros, but there are also cheaper books and more expensive ones. There is always a highlight to the novelties, although there are some second-hand works.
The shop is open Monday to Friday between 11am and 5pm. On weekends, it opens at noon and closes at 6pm. Due to the pandemic, it is currently only possible to enter Photo Book Corner simultaneously.