Despite being named the World Book Capital of 2012, Yerevan has controversially gone ahead with a plan to revamp an area that was known for its mom-and-pop book dealers. In a story that has been shaping up for the greater part of the past year, the final episode of the forced evacuations of booksellers in Yerevan’s Yeritasardakan Metro Station occurred mid-March.
Most of the book merchants are from working class families who have made a living off selling books in the metro’s confines for years. In a video report by CivilNetTV, several booksellers were seen packing their boxes and voicing their opinions on the forced evacuation. For weeks, it was unclear what was to happen to them.
On Tues., March 19, the City Council of Yerevan convened to discuss what would become of the now-vacant area. Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan told Republican Party council member Astghik Gevorgyan that he had met with representatives of the booksellers and proposed alternative locations where they could take up their business. Some suggestions included a venue next to the fish market on Saryan St. or the underground alley near the Malibu Coffee Shop on Aram St. These areas will be just as favorable to the booksellers’ business as their previous location in the Yeritasardakan Metro Station was, Margaryan said in a recent story published by CivilNet.
The destruction of several stores in the Yeritasardakan Metro Station began early last year, but all activity ceased until earlier this month, when the compulsory evacuation of the book merchants began. The name of the new owner of the defunct underground bookselling hub remains undisclosed. But the mayor is hopeful that the venue will be returned to the booksellers, and maintains that the new owner of the site has not ruled out that option.
What lies ahead for Yerevan’s former book haven cannot be said decisively. Some believe that the government has purchased the territory to revamp the station with new shops and attractions. Others say the area has been purchased by a private citizen who may turn it into something vastly different.