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Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus

It was 1986. In my hometown of Denver Colorado, a bookstore called the Tattered Cover needed a new home, and so it moved into the 4-story building that formerly was Neusteter’s Department Store in the Cherry Creek Shopping Center. The original store that had opened in its former location in 1971 had been expanding its volume of books to the point that it now needed four floors! 

The new store was amazing. I had never seen such a wealth of books for sale.

Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus
Berlin, Germany

Also in 1971, another bookstore had been opened in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Called Borders Bookstore, it grew into a bookstore chain, and they also specialized in carrying a large selection of books. I was once told by a Borders employee in Virginia that they been modeling their stores on the Tattered Cover in Denver. I used to visit the large Borders Bookstore in Washington, DC and browse through the shelves and marvel at the depth of books in each section of the large store. However, sometime after 2000, I watched as “a new buying policy” (the clerks told me) was implemented, and the quantity of books began diminishing, the rarest disappearing first. Finally, Borders went bankrupt and disappeared altogether.

As the books disappeared, so did the classical music CDs. It was around 2006 when I was in one of the big-box stores and I noticed that the classical music section had disappeared altogether, perhaps to make room for more hip-hop music. I also noticed that the classical music section in Walmart had shrunk to a tiny section of “greatest hits” and bargain CDs.

And so, that is how it was when I left for Europe in 2007 for an extended journey. It was in Europe that I discovered what was probably the greatest combination CD and bookstore in the world: Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus in Berlin. When I returned to Berlin in 2009, I brought a tiny camera, and I photo-documented the entire store. Please take a 12-minute journey through the Dussmann Culture Department Store with my video below. I recommend watching it on a computer or TV screen to catch the detail.

Don Robertson