‘Hoću Knjigu’, a Bookshop with a Difference in the Digital Age

Total Croatia News


As digital media is slowly killing old-fashioned books and traditional print, meet a corner of Croatia which is fighting back. And doing rather well. 

I must admit that when I heard of the opening of a mega-bookstore in central Zagreb a few weeks ago, I rolled my eyes. Why is it that some people cannot understand that life has moved on, and technology is changing the way things are? Forever. 

This is the era where the Internet is king. Kindles, e-books and the unlimited words online, this is where the book industry is going. Opening a bookstore, let alone a mega-bookstore was the height of insanity, surely?

And then… 


Christmas was approaching, and I had children to entertain in the centre of Zagreb. A screening of the award-winning short movie, Ježeva Kućica, at that new mega-bookstore should keep the five little ones under my wing busy for a little bit (and I would have been right, had I researched that the movie was actually only 12 minutes long), my piece of mind was thankfully prolonged by several more precious minutes by some awaiting fairies and the Man in Red himself. 

Santa came over and asked me how I was. I replied that I was fine, but a little confused why he had not come to visit me for the last 43 years. He replied by placing a boiled sweet in the palm of my hand. Bless you, Santa.


The thing is, I had this funny sensation as I entered that mega-bookstore – I felt at home and harking back to my childhood. The place was spacious, superbly decorated and with more treasures to entice the little ones than the most luxuriously stocked sweet shop. I am not a fan of Christmas, but these guys were forcing me to have a rethink. Daddy Bradders and Uncle Paul were not just a crusty old fart, after all – this place was seriously cool.

After the movie and Santa visit concluded, I told the five kids that they had 10 minutes and a 200 kuna budget each to find their own Christmas present. And off they rushed in different directions, and I can truly say that not many kids had more fun looking to see what awaited them under the Christmas tree than they had tearing around the store. A truly fabulous place, and I take back my preconceptions – this place is amazing. 


Tell us more, I hear you cry. As a dedicated investigative journalist, I suppose I should have been doing the research and asking penetrating questions. But why bother, when you have such an efficient marketing manager who can explain things so much better. Over to you, Sanja:

“Hoću knjigu”, roughly translated as “I want books”, is a newly opened Croatian bookstore chain that offers the best selection of books and paper assortments to all book lovers and those who simply want more. The bookstores are stylishly equipped and offer the widest range of quality book titles while their expert staff with extraordinary literary knowledge are always on hand. Furthermore, each and every employee is open to new ideas or recommendations.

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The founders of Hoću knjigu bookstores are three young and energetic friends; Matija Fojs, and Zvonko and Jurica Čubrić. Zvonko and Jurica spent years working at a paper business and were partially connected with the publishers as well, so the Čubrić family decided to partner with Matija Fojs and invest in the bookstore chain after Algoritam’s downfall and after selling their shareholder stakes at Fokus, the largest distributor of office supplies in Croatia. They wanted to prove that you can work in the bookshop business in a fair and honest way, paying suppliers on time and still make some money at the end of the day.

The first bookstore, the iconic “Mala Bogovićeva”, re-opened in June, while the last and the biggest one, former Profil and now Hoću knjigu Megastore, opened at the beginning of November. For Čubrić brothers and Fojs, one of the main goals is to modernize the reading experience in Croatia, because from their experience, books and bookshops are still one of the main sources of entertainment in the 21st century.

The bookstores they dream of and what they will ultimately accomplish at present bookstore locations have long existed all over the world. In Croatia, at least so far, the situation has been different. It’s safe to say that Hoću knjigu has one major advantage compared to other bookstores – they are not publishers, so they can carefully listen to what the customer wants, and not to push the books that are simply not selling. They don’t want their customers to enter bookstores just to buy some books, but for the whole atmosphere. The latest bestsellers, a reading spot and educated staff are the minimum present bookstores need to fulfil, while other events, such as music performances, movie screenings, book promotions and mingling with famous authors should attract even those who are not very fond of reading.


And it proved to be a great combination, since several thousand people entered their bookstores in December, while Hoću knjigu Megastore turned into a real Santa Claus Town. The “Santa Claus Town” project started in Croatia in 2013 and soon spread to Europe and Asia. It is estimated that more than 200,000 people visited Santa Claus Town during first two years. The town of artificial snow scattered throughout the bookstore, fairies, movie projections, elves and mascots in the form of books and pencils definitely ensured that the youngest visitors of Megastore would experience all the elements of a true winter fairy tale.

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In conclusion, combining fantasy and reality, Hoću knjigu bookstores invite you to join them on their adventures. Since reading and writing are not lonely activities, their visitors have a unique opportunity to enrich their lives with new and interesting experiences and people.

Hoću knjigu bookstores are now located in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Varaždin.  Learn more on the official website.




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