Luís Alves Dias, the founder, always had a dream of opening a bookshop in the area he considered to be Lisbon’s rive gauche. Various other bookshops existed in the neighbourhood at the time – Concorrente, Volga, Compasso, to name but a few – but they have all since disappeared. Livraria Ler remains, the three letters LER being the Portuguese verb to read, one of life’s great pleasures. From its opening in 1970 up until the April revolution of 1974, the shop was a reference for books that inspired the reader to think; indeed, one could buy titles there that were banned by the regime – sold secretly, of course. Such books were hidden away in between the shelving, in false walls or even in cans of paint and they were only sold to trustworthy customers.
Ler also published books. A total of 35 titles, of which one should highlight the Maria da Fonte collection for its contribution to knowledge on politics, social causes and revolutionary theories. Today the shop also serves as a cultural centre for the neighbourhood, with poetry and music sessions, a reading club, book launch and book signing events, workshops, and children’s story reading sessions. It also takes part in the Poetry Book Fair that is held in the Jardim da Parada.