Arno Adler



Bookshop and antiquarian bookshop

Hi there! My name is Greta. I am a true Hamburg native who has found her heart’s home in Lübeck. In my free time, you can find me on the field hockey pitch or savouring a mousse-au-chocolat tart in a café. Lübeck offers me daily opportunities to enjoy culture and the beauty of nature. Therefore, I am particularly excited to introduce you to a true institution of Lübeck’s culture in the Lübeck ZWISCHENZEILEN: the Arno Adler bookshop and antiquarian.

What could be more delightful than strolling through the picturesque lanes of Lübeck’s Old Town on a fresh spring day, discovering new delights? A personal highlight for me is Hüxstraße – my favourite street. With each visit, I dive anew into the lovingly decorated shop windows..

The Arno Adler bookshop and antiquarian bookshop has a shop window that is particularly worth browsing. Has it ever captivated you and taken you away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping street for a few precious moments? Today I have the chance to meet members of the Adler family in person and travel into their fascinating world of books.

The history – Once upon a time …

The history of this bookshop and antiquarian stretches back almost a century. In 1932, Arno Adler laid the foundation for a family business that would endure for generations. With his mobile book wagon, he stood in the shade of St. Mary’s Church, opposite the Buddenbrook House, under a linden tree. In 1937, Arno moved into his first shop at Hüxstraße 37. But soon, space became tight, and in 1948, the bookshop opened a few doors down at its current location, Hüxstraße 55. From then, the bookshop and antiquarian were housed in two separate rooms.

Arno Adler Bookstore

Stepping into the bookshop, you’re invited to browse and fall in love among the nearly ceiling-high bookshelves. Here you’ll find an impressive variety of works – from fiction and picture books to current topics in politics, economics, and history, biographies, as well as children’s and young adult books. Each book is carefully selected and bears the Adler quality seal.

At a small counter, I’m warmly greeted by Hannelore Adler, representing the second generation of the Adler family. She has been running the bookshop for many decades, initially with her husband Kurt. Today, she is supported by her daughter Tanja and granddaughter Lisbeth. Together, they preview publishers’ announcements, review reading copies, and consult to choose suitable works. Two questions are always at the forefront: Do they personally like the book, and will it appeal to their loyal customers?

During my visit, both new and regular customers continually enter the shop. One customer particularly stands out: she came to pick up a book she ordered. While paying, she mentioned that she had initially wanted to buy a different book by the same author available on Amazon, but she was happier with this title because she could buy it from the Adler family. Such appreciation and awareness of this special bookshop are remarkable!

AA Kinderbuecher scaled

The antiquarian bookshop

The door to the antiquarian shop opens with a soft jingle of bells, and a familiar scent of old books and cosiness greets me. The atmosphere reminds me of my senior school days at Johanneum in Hamburg, where I used to study Latin vocabulary during breaks in the old library. It’s a journey to another time, and that’s intentional – little has changed since the shop’s opening in 1948. The bookshelves sag, and the grandfather’s old cash register still stands in its place.

Olaf Adler, Hannelore Adler’s son and thus representative of the third Adler generation, and I sit down in comfortable armchairs. He tells me how, as a little boy, he used to play in his grandfather’s second-hand bookshop and how much of a bibliophile his whole family is and was. It was natural for him to step in as a successor. However, he did experience a moment of doubt: choosing between the antiquarian trade and a career in astrophysics and space exploration. Olaf Adler decided to become an antiquarian with a passion for astronomy, learning his trade in exclusive book auction houses in Paris and Hamburg.

Eventually, he returned to Lübeck to take over the antiquarian shop from his father. With his expertise, he acts as a mediator between special books and their enthusiasts, whose interests range from a first edition of Goethe to poultry farming. One customer has a fascination with book clasps—content being irrelevant—and displays the books upside down on his shelf. Olaf Adler has an extensive directory of collectors whom he serves. When acquiring books, he often has a specific person in mind who would cherish them.

Arno Adler - the bookshop and antiquarian bookshop in Lübeck

He shows me a particular work: “History of the Wars in and outside Europe – from the Beginning of the Uprising of the British Colonies in North America,” published in 1776 and adorned with numerous maps of New York from before it was urbanised. He enjoys researching such special works, comparing the maps in the book with modern ones, thus becoming an expert on the subjects of his unique books.

Arno Adler - the bookshop and antiquarian bookshop in Lübeck

In his profession, he is not only a trader but also a researcher. He is currently deeply involved in researching the genealogy of the Mann family, having acquired a book inscribed as a gift to Sigmund Mann. This has led him to intensively study the Mann family tree, searching for clues about the familial relationship between Sigmund and Thomas Mann.

The Adler family plays a vital role in preserving cultural heritage .

Supported by loyal customers who carry on the appreciation for a good book in their hands, the Adlers are not only guardians of the past, but also trailblazers for the future. Arno Adler also runs an online store where customers from near and far can order books recommended by the Adler family. Regionally, a specially employed courier brings the ordered books directly to your doorstep. Incidentally, the Adler family was ahead of its time decades ago, as the Adler delivery service already has a long tradition: Hannelore and Kurt Adler also delivered books throughout Lübeck when they were a young couple. And far ahead of Amazon and co! Meanwhile, Arno Adler’s Instagram channel offers book recommendations and behind-the-scenes glimpses.

If you’re in Lübeck, you should definitely visit the store in person to experience the passion for books that runs in the Adler family’s veins. You’ll undoubtedly leave this book paradise with new reading material—I myself couldn’t resist buying a beautifully illustrated children’s book about old crafts.

Arno Adler - the bookshop and antiquarian bookshop in Lübeck
Tanja Adler-Springer, Hannelore Adler and Olaf Adler

Reading is dreaming with open eyes

Motto of the Adler family

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written by:

Lübeck Team