IN PRAISE OF INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES

I just finished reading a book called My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop. Published by Black Dog & Leventhal, edited by Richard Rice, and with an Introduction by Richard Russo and an Afterword by Emily St. John Mandell, this fine book is a collection of essays by successful authors, all giving thanks to their favorite bookstores, while they celebrate real books (as opposed to ebooks), real bookstores (brick-and-mortar stores, not online bookstores; independent stores, not chains or superstores), owned and staffed by friendly, book-knowledgeable real people. I recommend this book highly to anybody who can’t pass up any bookstore, and who loves the look, the feel, and the smell of books.

On the downside, I can’t help noticing that a fair percentage of the contributing writers are mainly concerned with bragging about their own careers. But authors tend to do that. But writers also tend to be original and entertaining, and there’s plenty of original entertainment in this collection, and plenty of story. Barry Moser gives us a love story. Les Standiford offers a noir detective spoof. Lisa See reveals fascinating history in the background of her Chinese immigrant ancestors. Tom Robbins is as goofy and funny as ever. Matt Weiland has contributed a long poem full of name-dropping rhymed couplets. Two bookstore owners, the wonderful Louise Erdrich and the wonderful Ann Patchett, generously brag up bookstores that are not their own. And so on. All these writers and dozens more show how much they love books and bookstores.

As do I. As do you too, I bet.

Hooperman!

 

Between 1960 and 1983, I worked in eight different independent bookstores. My longest gig was from 1970 to 1977, while I worked as a clerk and for a while as buyer for Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, California.

Kepler’s Books is back in my mind now, because it was the model for my fictional bookstore, Maxwell’s Books, the scene of my forthcoming novel Hooperman, which will be published in October. Yes, I’m being a self-promoting author now. Can’t help it.

 

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4 Responses

  1. My sentiments exactly. I love my local Vermont Book Shop, former home to Robert Frost, whom I met when he signed my copy of his Complete Poems. Believe me I won’t give that copy away to my greedy daughters! They’ll just have to wait for my demise. Of course Frost was still alive (barely) when the book came out, so I don’t know why they called it “complete.” He must’ve had another poem in him still… I’ll look for Hooperman! (Couldn’t get the picture on my computer).

  2. It’s my pleasure to facilitate a mystery book club at my local independent. It helps my mood that they carry my backlist!

    Love that image, John!

  3. It’s good to know your local indie supports you…and that you support your local indie!

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