Fully booked - Issue 173 - Magazine | Monocle

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With a history dating to 1881, Livraria Lello is frequently referred to as the world’s most beautiful bookshop. It’s a title the institution is proud of and one that provides a calling card for its host city, Porto, where it attracts thousands of visitors every day. But there is more to Livraria Lello than cosmetic appeal. Among the ceiling-high bookshelves, grand wooden staircases and stained-glass windows operates a dynamic business, concerned with preserving an important piece of the city’s patrimony and remaining relevant as a 21st-century cultural player. 

While large queues are generally a good sign, they have posed some challenges here. “People would come in, take a picture and forget altogether that this is a bookshop,” says Livraria Lello’s manager, Aurora Pedro Pinto, who with her husband bought a majority stake in the company in 2015 and the remaining shares in 2023. The solution to the problem of sightseers came in the form of a small fee: visitors are now required to pay for an €8 voucher upon entry, which can be used for book purchases. “We’re not a museum,” says Pinto. “Our aim has always been to form readers.”

“Forming readers”, for the shop’s managers, is about more than just selling books. It requires planning a cultural calendar, with signings and readings that will soon spill over into a building acquired nextdoor. Livraria Lello also publishes its own beautifully designed editions, which today account for many of the shop’s book sales. Then there are the collaborations on products and events. “We partner with several international institutions, from Pantone and Zara to the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation,” says Pinto. Livraria Lello teamed up with Bic last year to launch a pen celebrating the Porto-based Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Álvaro Siza. That’s not to mention restocking the 3,000 to 5,000 books sold daily or managing the booksellers who make sure they are flying off the shelves. Pinto tells monocle, “We always say, with some boldness, that we want to make the whole world read.”


Aurora Pedro Pinto, (bottom left)
Co-owner and manager


Born in Vizela in 1961, Aurora Pedro Pinto taught law at Portucalense University for 26 years before going into business. She and her husband, Pedro Pinto, have invested in a range of Porto’s cultural and tourist intitutions. They acquired a majority stake in Livraria Lello in 2015; two years later, Aurora became president of its management committee and, in 2021, its sole administrator.


1. HugoMiguel Silva

Head of marketing and communication

Responsible for the bookshop’s cultural programme, which welcomes locals to events free of charge.” 


2. Nuno Melo
One of our senior booksellers. He gets people to fall in love with books.”


3. Luísa Couto
Head of commercial, purchase & logistics
In charge of restocking 3,000 to 5,000 books a day from our suppliers.


4. Carla Matos
Accounting and administrative manager
Responsible for Lello’s bookkeeping. A reliable and calm pair of hands.”


5. Nelson Pereira
Information and communication systems manager
Nelson is behind the IT systems of Livraria Lello at a time in which being at the forefront of digital innovation is fundamental to our success.” 


6. Andreia Ferreira
Director for brand
Responsible for Lello’s national and international recognition and outreach. She connects the entire team to the world.”


7. Marisa Miranda
Business general director
A force of nature, Marisa makes sure that the business is in top financial and operational health.”


8. António Pedro Pinto
The future of the family business.”


9. Filipe Costa
Having worked at Lello for 24 years, Filipe is an endless source of stories that entertain the whole team.”


10. Cecília Machado
Head of finance, accounting and administration
“Leads our financial department, staying up to date on the spreadsheets that control the entry of thousands of visitors as well as the sales of thousands of books daily.”


11. Mafalda Teixeira
People care manager
Mafalda knows her colleagues better than anyone and tends to everyone’s wellbeing.”


12. Faustino Barbosa
Head of human resources, people, culture and development
“Takes care of the business’s main asset: its employees. He works tirelessly to attract and retain talent by increasing employee satisfaction within the company.”


13. Francisca Pedro Pinto
“The future of the family business.”

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