"18) As you cross the street with your bag of new books, remember the first time your mother took you to a bookstore and told you to pick something out. To keep, not borrow. You were overwhelmed by choice and wonder. Remember how you pulled things off the shelf at random because every book was equally unknown and fresh and promising."
“A clutch of papers glued and bound will never have the indelibility, the agility of an e-book. Just as Honesdale can never hope to have the electric force of New York City, but we were still able to throw a crazy cocktail party with books and art, amazing cheese, a beautiful group of friends and customers, and even an enchanted forest.” —Kelly McMasters at Paris Review – Notes from a Bookshop: April, or Spring Fever, Kelly McMasters
Field trip, pretty please?
"The biggest elephant—or myth—in the room is that bookstores are less relevant today. The opposite is true. As we engage in vast swaths of our lives virtually, the face-to-face conversation becomes more necessary and more valued. Bookstores fit perfectly into the community that locavorism is seeking to preserve or reestablish."
"The codex, which is the ancestor of the book, was invented 2,500 years ago, and ever since then the book business has been in incredible flux, and it’s not going to change. But one thing that’s also not going to change is people love to go to bookstores, and people still have tremendous loyalty for the physical book."
"Because the city is in the throes of an independent-bookstore renaissance:
Between the demise of Borders in 2011 and the proliferation of e-readers, cultural trend predictors were poised to hammer nails into the printed word’s coffin. New York responded with a resounding eff-you in the form of an indie-bookseller scene that’s stronger than ever, with many ventures focused on—and sometimes funded by—the surrounding community. Just look at recent success stories, like Washington Heights’ initially temporary, volunteer-run Word Up, which became so popular that the store is reopening for good this spring on the strength of donations. LGBT-focused pop-up the Bureau of General Services–Queer Division recently announced an indefinite partnership with Strange Loop Gallery, and operates out of that space. Dumbo’s powerHouse Arena recently opened an outpost in Park Slope, and Greenpoint’s WORD is expanding to a second spot, in Jersey City. Plus, many shops—including Fort Greene’s Greenlight Bookstore, McNally Jackson and Housing Works in Soho, and Boerum Hill’s BookCourt—have thrived thanks to author readings, book clubs and lit-themed parties that bring book fiends together. Long story short: NYC is a bibliophile’s dream town."
"Now that we could order any book at any hour without having to leave the screen in front of us, we realized what we had lost: the community center, the human interaction, the recommendation of a smart reader rather than a computer algorithm telling us what other shoppers had purchased. I promised whoever was listening that from those very ashes, the small independent bookstore would rise again."
Required reading. Also, Ann Patchett for queen. Of whatever.
"We have probably passed the point where there can be any credible objections to the existence and use of electronic readers. (I like the feel and smell of books as much as anybody, but come now: you can keep all of Montaigne and Tolstoy on a phone in your pocket. That’s amazing.) And booksellers have wholeheartedly embraced the online selling that keeps them in business. Yet bookstores provide something irreplaceable that we shouldn’t easily relinquish. Their knowing charms and surprises (even, admittedly, their parochialism and occasional cluelessness) spring from the people who run them and who decide what they will carry. Bookstores are, in essence, personal libraries. In this way, they are macrocosms of the books they contain—there is life inside them."
This whole piece is just lovely.
“But my favorite job was at Housing Works, where I stood at the sluice gates of the incoming book donations and was tasked with judging which ones would be elevated to the shelves on the book floor. Housing Works is a fascinating case study, because its floor inventory and its online inventory (also housed in the building’s basements) are separate entities. It’s almost like two bookstores in one—the first for browsing and surfing the serendipity of the stacks, the second for title-searched Internet ordering.” (via The Bookstore Brain: How Bookstores Choose Their Books : The New Yorker)
Sam still volunteers here on weekends, and we adore him. Click through and read this whole essay, it’s great. And our sorting process actually is fascinating.
"I wrote an instructional book about yoga that can only be done over the mouth of a volcano. It’s kind of niche, and I printed the copies by hand on recycled napkins. You know, the environment and all. You should carry my book. I’d love to do weekly events here! I know you don’t have a volcano to do the yoga over, but we can improvise. Maybe a small fire pit in the children’s section? Let me know!"
All of the types of people Dan describes totally exist. See Dan make fun of you in person on Tuesday.
"A bookstore, on the other hand, is a place to curate both ideas and experiences in the form of books and conversations for a really broad audience, to constantly prod and provoke people in ways they aren’t necessarily looking for."
Stuff We like
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.”
This Week's Readings
MONDAY: Book launch for Lisa Hanawalt’s My Dirty Dumb Eyes, a...