Livraria Solmar opened its doors on March 21st, 1991, in Ponta Delgada. Founded by José Carlos Frias, Albano Pimentel, and José Garcia, it is currently managed by only one of its founders, José Carlos Frias, along with his wife, Maria Helena Frias. The opening date was a symbolic and bold choice: symbolic because it honoured the celebration of World Poetry Day, and bold because it marked a turning point for the concept of “bookstore” in the Azores, creating a consistent plethora of cultural events — expositions, book launches, debates, get-togethers —, which stimulated the city’s public and intellectual spheres, as it still does nowadays.
The cultural events hosted in this bookstore — all of them held with the intention of bringing together regional and national authors — have had the attendance of notable figures, such as: António Lobo Antunes, José Saramago (Nobel Prize in Literature 1998), José Cardoso Pires, Mia Couto, Urbano Bettencourt, Emanuel Jorge Botelho, Daniel de Sá, Fernando Aires, Dias de Melo, Vamberto Freitas, Álamo de Oliveira, Onésimo Teotónio de Almeida, João de Melo; as well as authors who are building the new generation of literature: Joel Neto, João Pedro Porto, Leonardo, Nuno Costa Santos, Maria Brandão, Leonor Sampaio, among many other renowned Azorean writers.
From its inception, Livraria Solmar has been a space of symbiosis between writers and artists, hosting exhibition openings, many of which happened in the 90s.
In the decade of 2000, Artes e Letras is launched, a publisher that is currently autonomous and managed by Maria Helena Frias, printing tittles of great importance: Raul Brandão’s Ilhas Desconhecidas, Antero de Quental’s Sonetos Completos, Maria das Mercês Pacheco’s Viajantes nos Açores, and others.
This is the synthesis of a cultural space whose greatest achievement is its longevity and its biggest challenge is its permanence.