Bookstore ‘Elephas’ : There are not so many places in Vilnius where you can get the Polish literature

Bartek Borys

‘ We hope that a paper traditional book will outlive these difficult times and despite the existance of e-books will be gladly bought in the future’ said Dorota Latkowska. She and her husband Gerardem own the Polish bookstore ‘Elephas’ in Vilnius.

The Polish bookstore ‘Elephas’ has existed in Vilnius for a few years. How the beginning of your business looked like?

We began in the first half of XX century by opening small kiosks with books, which were located in some Vilnius schools. These were Władysław Syrokomli High School, Adam Mickiewicz Gymnasium and also Józef Ignacy Kraszewski High School in Naujoji Vilnia. It was possible to buy not only books, but also other goods, such as pens, notebooks, different snacks and drinks.

And when did you move to the place your shop is located now, the Dutch street 11 (Olandų of hour 11)?

We opened our first representative office sixteen years ago. However it had another location. It was in this building, but closer to the traffic circle. But soon we moved to this place and decided to remain here.

Which books can be found in ‘Elephas’?

We have a great choice of books of different types. You can find here dictionaries, train aids, educational games, fairy-tales for children, and also the most important books from school literature. In addition, we have a large department devoted to Wileńszczyźna and Vilnius. Our bookshop also offers science-fiction, fantastic and historical books, travelling, culinary, religious and modern literature. We have maps and guide-books, calendars, the most popular is ‘Kalendarz Rodziny Wileńskiej’ (‘Calendar of Vilnius Family’). We are trying to do everything in order to provide our customers with what they want for themselves.

Is it possible to find something else apart from books in your shop?

Yes. We possess a great choice of educational games for children what I have already said, actually. It is also possible to find the Polish press either earlier issues of newspapers or later ones. You can also make a subscription. In the bookstore you have an opportunity to buy some school equipment, greeting cards and stamps from Vilnius. Especially popular this season are greeting and religious cards, invitations on weddings and baptisms.

How your subscription looks like? Is it possible only on newspapers and magazines or people can also order books?

Obviously, it is possible to order books. On the average two times per month we go to Poland for books. Later we inform those, who ordered books that they are already available in the shop.

I guess, that as a possessor of the bookstore, Mrs. Latkowska is keen on books and has favorite authors. Who belongs to them?

One of my favourite literary genres are detective stories. I really love books, written by Jo Nesbo and I am looking forward to the Polish premiere of “The Son”, which is going to be in few days.To my mind,  ‘Czarna Seria’ (‘Black Series’) of detectives from publishing house ‘Czarna Owca’ (‘Black Sheep’) is worthy as well. I can distinguish such authors as Hakan Nesser, Liza Marklund or Camilla Lackberg.

Many habitants of our city and also tourists can be interested in publications about Vilnius and Wileńszczyzna. Which books devoted to these topics we can find in ‘Elephasa’?

There are a lot of books of such a type and it depends on which literary genre we are interested in. Books by Tomas Venclovy are really popular, either guide to Vilnius or other his works such as ‘Vilnius. Biography guide’. The admirers of history will find books devoted to the Polish road to independence with information about the figure of major Zygmunt Szendzielorz also known as ‘Łupaszka’. For Vilnius citizens it would be enjoyable to read the history of Joachim Lelewel High School under the heading  ‘Zawsze wierni ‘Piątce’ (‘Always faithful to ‘Five’) written by Vilnius journalist and graduated student of this representative office, Krystyna Adamowicz. Powerful biography of Bernardine Cemetery shows, how much can each of us discover about the history of city just wandering through the local necropolises. That is not all. There are lots of books about  Vilnius and Wileńszczyźna and everybody can find something for himself.

Have you got something for kids?

We have a range of books for the youngest children,e.g. those in the age of 3. We offer coloring books with stickers, exercises in which kids can study how to write either letters and numbers or lines and figures. The series of fairy-tales about a tortoise “Franklina” are very popular among parents whose children are only studing how to read.

What about a liitle bit older children?

The most popular books in this case are publications of Holly Webb and series of ‘Kroniki Archeo’ by Agnieszka Stelmaszyk who actually visited Vilnius while promoting her books, series of books by Rafał Kosik ‘Felix, Net and Nika’ and ‘Magiczne drzewo’ (‘Magic tree’) by Andrzej Maleszki.

Do you cooperate with Polish schools and libraries?

Yes. When schools and libraries have additional finances on the purchase of books they order in our bookshop methodical books, lesson plans, textbooks or dictionaries, literature for youth and for teenagers.

Well, let us change the topic and talk more on the situation of small bookstores nowadays. Can “Elephas” compete with large players in the market of books such as “Vaga” or “Pegasas”?

The bookstore “Elephas” is in certain niche. Not many places in Vilnius offer the Polish literature, Lithuanian bookstores presumably does not sell it. So people interested in publications in Polish search this literature in our shop.We hope that a paper traditional book will outlive these difficult times and despite the existance of e-books will be gladly bought in the future.

The bookstore “Elephas” is located on the Dutch street 11 (Olandų of hour 11).

Open hours are 10: 00 – 19: 00 on Modays-Fridays and also from 10: 00 to 16: 00 on Sundays.

Official web-site of the bookstore :


Tłumaczenie by Diana Doniczenko w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, Translated by Diana Doniczenko within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights,

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