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Behind the Scenes at Minoa, a Magical Bookstore: An Interview with Petek Tokuz and Gizem Çerçi

(all photos of the store were taken by our team)

Their bookshelves mesmerizing visitors at first sight and their delicious herbal teas warming hearts, “Minoa” is a chain of bookstore cafés where you can either get lost between endless shelves full of unique books, sip your beverage and work, or buy designer home decoration products.

While you can spot Minoa’s stores in Nişantaşı, Etiler, Caddebostan, Maslak, and Pera, the store in Akaretler is the main branch with a cozy atmosphere and a broad range of services including a brasserie section, home decoration products, and an extensive variety of book anthology.

We visited their main store, took lots of photos, and most importantly, engaged with the people there.

We had the chance to speak with Gizem Çerçi, a worker in the bookstore section, about her experiences in Minoa. Sadly, the owner Petek Tokuz wasn’t there the day we visited, but Ms. Çerçi sent our questions to her and she gladly accepted to answer them.

Now, let’s take a look at what happens behind the scenes at Minoa.

Firstly, we asked Mrs. Tokuz:

Why Minoa?

“If you’re asking ‘Why Minoa Bookstore?’, the answer is ‘our passion for books’. My husband and I have dreamt of this for many years. Our motive was to equip a business like Minoa that recreated our lifestyle in the neighborhood and the city we grew up in. If you ask ‘Why the name Minoa?’, the answer would be our wish to remind people of the heritage of an old civilization that got lost in this land. ‘Minoa’ is the name of a civilization whose ruins were found in Crete in the previous century. Some argue that it’s the lost continent: Atlantis. We chose the name Minoa for our store as this name represents the strong, remarkable civilization of Crete which stands out with its unique art and cultural heritage.”

What were your inspirations to found Minoa?

“My husband Nazım was keen on books and visited bookstores often as a kid. These passions of his continued after we got married and built a life together. For a long time, Nazım worked as an architect while I was in the field of human resources. We visited many bookstores as we traveled, and every single one of them inspired us in some way. The stores we liked the most were the combined ones where there were books, café sections, and so on. As time went by, we got into a more conscious and serious research process about founding our own place. We did lots of observing whilst we put on our best effort to improve ourselves as a ‘bookstore’, visiting book fairs, and engaging with publishing houses.”

To you, how is Minoa different from other bookstore cafés?

“Minoa was founded as an independent bookstore. I would say that the main distinction of Minoa is its rich book collection. Initially, we chose our personal favorites regarding literary work and created a unique compilation. All of our workers approached this system in the same way and contributed to our collection. Our bookshelves house many English and Turkish novels, poetry, research in various fields, and books that address specific areas such as architecture, history, fashion, or food. Our collections of children’s books and comics are highly popular as well.

I believe what differentiates us even more is the fact that besides being a rich bookstore, Minoa is a place where you can either enjoy a nourishing meal, sip your coffee while chatting with a friend, or join various events.”

What are the difficulties of being a bookstore and a café at the same time? In what ways do you approach and manage these hardships?

“What we desire to accomplish and work hard for is to be the best in every respect. Although making progress regarding this goal of ours is tiring and challenging, the entire Minoa team shares this goal and is dedicated to it from the heart. As a bookstore, we continuously read and research to house the most distinctive and high-quality collection while we pay attention to the new developments in the publishing world along with what our customers want.”

“Likewise, we have a qualified kitchen crew consisting of highly experienced workers and they are putting their best effort to make Minoa succeed as a café— and to make the best coffee in town. Furthermore, the broad variety of events that Minoa hosts or organizes is also a fundamental part of our work here. These events are sometimes a jazz concert and sometimes a signing event. All these events grow and evolve thanks to the people at Minoa, and although it is correct that our work pace is extremely rapid, we tackle any problem easily since we love what we do.”

What advice would you give to the people who may want to start a business like yours?

“Our journey started with an admiration of books and dreams that had existed for a long time. As two partners, my husband’s and my work experiences are highly different: one of us is an architect while the other worked in management and human resources. Both of us dreamt of a book café for years that would reflect our lifestyle. What I’m trying to communicate is that we founded Minoa based on 25 years of experience, so our work was not an outcome of an ‘initiative idea’. If we were to give advice based on our own story, we would advise you to start a business on something you truly love and are passionate about. This way, you will be able to confidently face and overcome any obstacles that occur in your work life, as the desire to succeed will be burning inside of you. Yet, another piece of advice you can take from us is to not rush anything when starting a business: put your ideas and knowledge on top of each other, as if they are bricks, and build your business that way. That’s what we did for Minoa.

Nazım & Petek Tokuz receiving The Bookstore of 2023 Award

And today, Minoa was elected as The Bookstore of 2023 in the London Book Fair’s International Perfection Awards. This award was the most precious gift to us along this journey we went on with passion and also a major source of motivation for our next steps.”

Thanks to the precious information Mrs. Tokuz provided us, we’ve learned quite a lot about Minoa’s journey of foundation.

Now, let’s chat with Gizem Çerçi, a worker in the bookstore section of Minoa Akaretler, to explore what a day in Minoa is like.

What is a typical work day at Minoa Bookstore like?

“I have been working here at Minoa for 4 years now, and I can definitely say that I really enjoy what I do here. Every morning, the initial thing my colleagues and I do is to evaluate the sales from the other day: Which books were sold? Do we need to restock any on the shelves? If we do, do we have the books we need in the storeroom? Which books are currently present in our storeroom, anyway?

Questions like these grow into a long list. Shortly, the first task of the day is to assess our sales and stocks.

Throughout the day, you just keep meeting different people who have various areas of interests. It’s such a great experience.”

Which genres of books are the most popular/sold the most nowadays?

“The books we offer on sale are either Turkish or English. For both languages, we offer collections of many genres, all created through a thorough selection of important work. Many people with various areas of interest visit our store every day, hence in the end, every genre is sold. Minoa’s bookshelves house special collections of prestigious work dedicated to very specific areas of interest as well. While they can be perceived as decorations by some people due to their high costs, we have customers that are interested in buying them. Although I can say that our kids’ books collections, both in Turkish and in English, are highly in demand nowadays.”

Was there a day or event in your Minoa experience that had a permanent impact on you? If yes, what was it?

“Metin Akpınar was here last year for a book-signing event. I fondly watched his work as a kid and my generation grew up with him. That day was the most beautiful— and perhaps the most important— day of my work experience at Minoa.”

What do you like the most about Minoa?

“The cats— they are everywhere. People don’t encounter them much on the first floor (the floor where the café is), yet Minoa’s cats are all around the garden as well as the upper floors.”

Minoa is a magical place where books, coffee and art meet. The main store being one of my personal favorites, I always make sure that I smell the scent of Minoa’s precious books and sip their delicious latte whenever I’m around Akaretler.

We thank both Mrs. Tokuz and Ms. Çerçi from the bottom of our hearts for their genuine answers and their interest to chat with us.

We invite you to search for Minoa the next time you’re taking a walk at Akaretler, Etiler, Caddebostan, or wherever else the many beautiful stores of Minoa reside.

If you’re interested in getting more information regarding Minoa, their website ( and Instagram account (@minoabooksandcoffee) are worth a look!


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