Saturday, January 12, 2008

Croatia Online - Magazines, Books and Bookshops

I hope readers will excuse us for using the front cover of our book - The Croatia Cruising Companion, covering The Dalmatian coast and islands - as the photo for today's posting. Honestly, it's the only good relevant image that we could lay our hands on speedily! Read more about it on our sister blog as today's posting is about what you can expect from Croatian bookshops and books on Croatia. However, before we leave the subject of our book, as well as being widely available from all the best bookshops in the UK, and on the internet, it's now in stock at the International Book Shop on Split Riva and we're actively seeking other distributors and retailers in Croatia.

As Croatia has grown in popularity, so have the number and variety of books available on it. When we first came here five years ago, there were just a small number of guide books in their first edition. Now every travel guide publishing company worth its salts has a guide on Croatia and many are on their third or fourth edition. Time Out Publications have gone just a little bit further and are now preparing their third annual magazine, Visitors Guide to Croatia, due out in April 2008. Available internationally and throughout Croatia for £5 or 50 kunas it has the advantage of being bang up to date as well as affordable. For insight on what's really happening and the latest news on what to do, where to go, what to eat and drink and where to stay, it's hard to beat. It's only fair to admit that we do have a connection with it - Croatia Online's editor is a regular contributor and on the marketing team - but for us, it's an invaluable source of reference when travelling, and the features will give you a real feel for any number of Croatia's best assets. Property, sailing, food and drink, partying and getting back to nature are regulars. Next year's issue aims to complement these with Tennis, Klapa, Wellness and much more. Plus, as usual, the area by area listings of hotels, restaurants, bars, nightlife, culture, etc will contain the latest objective information, written as they are by locals like us who live in the area rather than being flown in for a couple of weeks as can happen on similar publications.

An increasing market for guides has a number of advantages as it leads to more specialised and detailed books. We mentioned Frommer's Croatia With Your Family in a previous posting. Go to to find out more on what to do with children in Croatia.

Yesterday we picked up a couple of new books: Alastair Sawday's Special Places To Stay and Croatia Chic. Both have a slightly different angle on Croatia's tourism offer and and a number of individual merits. The Alastair Sawday series has a particular emphasis on eco matters but nevertheless has tried to pick hotels and accomodation that are a little out of the ordinary in other ways. A French/Singapore team is behind Croatia Chic which aims at the top end of the tourism market. There are a couple of surprising choices in both of them, however they both add to the increasing array of information available.
Coming up are even more specialist books for walkers, wine lovers, etc - watch this space.
If you keep your eyes peeled you will come across the occasional cultural book in English to add to the more prolific range of tourist information. Just a couple of the one's we intend to review in future pages include:
Mediterranean Mosaic, which includes a chapter on the place of Klapa music in the Mediterranean music world.
British Travellers in Dalmatia 1757- 1935, a book which recounts the adventures of a few well known names such as Robert Adams and Alan Paton.
In the meantime, we'll continue to keep our eyes on the bookshops and newsagents to keep you informed of the best of what's on offer.
Most of the bigger towns, Zadar, Zagreb, Split, etc, have a decent international bookshop but you sometimes have to search hard to find them. The International Bookshop on the main promenade (Riva) in Split is one of the best and has been there since we arrived in Croatia five years ago. At that time is was about the only place to find a reasonably current English newspaper. Life for all the businesses on Split Riva was hard last year whilst the whole area was being transformed into an end result that went down so badly with the locals that public opinion has persuaded the council to have another go at it. The soul of the Riva was the facades of the buildings on one side, the sea on the other, and scores of small shops and bustling cafes. The metallic street lights. glaring stone slabs, high tech chairs, uniform awnings and major hike in business rates did their best to spoil the bustling Mediterranean "high street" feel, and most of the locals now flee into the Diocletian Palace area for their coffees, so let's hope the advent of a new big bookshop is not another nail in the coffin and the beginning of the end for the small specialist shops. Tiska will soon be opening it's first Dalmatian bookshop on Split's Riva, on a grand scale, and intends to follow that with shops in Makarska, Dubrovnik, Zadar and Šibenik. Hopefully that will complement what Split International Bookshop already has to offer and not result in its demise.
Away from the sea in Split, the new Joker Centre, near to the Atrium Hotel and Brodarica development, has a great bookshop, Profil, on the second floor, with a wide choice of English language books. Here you'll find the latest of travel guides on Croatia and plenty of English Language novels and non fiction. Don't expect the big discounts that you can find in England but, reassuringly the Croatian price is very similar to the UK full retail price.

When we first came to Croatia we prided ourself on having almost every English language book ever written on Croatia in our library. Now that's just not possible and I suspect the time has come for an enterprising expat to make a decent return on a commercial library of English Language books. However we will endeavour to keep our eye out for anything new and/or unusual on the market and let you know about it.
Happy reading!


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