Last month ended with a dramatic dip of 30.7% of bookstore sales compared of August of last year. What the month's sales had been $1.09 billion in August 2019, in 2020 it was only over $754 million.
With the reemergence of independent bookstores and an ever-increasing nostalgia for the intimacy of physicality in a digital age, The Booksellers comes at an opportune time for any reader who puts their love for the paper-bound artifacts above all else. Directed by D.W. Young, this documentary focuses on the livelihoods and idiosyncrasies of New York’s finest antiquarian booksellers. They don’t sell what you can purchase online for two-day Prime shipping. These bibliophiles specialize in everything from leather-bound covers to hip-hop collections.
Young booksellers are seeing an increasing diversification in content and in the sellers themselves. Not every participant in the film looks like a literature professor at The University of Please Hold All Questions Until The End. That sentence itself has both racial, gender, and class implications that are transcended in the reality of bookselling. There are prominent black and POC booksellers, not only of independent bookshops, but also of literary rarities, who are highlighted in the film.
The Booksellers also addresses the industry’s climacteric: the rise of the Internet. The Internet plays a complicated role in the field. For younger sellers, it’s a demand to innovate, and, for older, it’s a demand to adapt. While companies like Amazon and Kindle have a monopoly over digital reads, their services are incomparable to the experience of browsing at a bookstore or a book fair.
Physical copies preserve history not simply in a tangible sense but in a cultural one. Maneuvering bookshelves, reveling over inscriptions and publication dates, and experiencing those joys in a space devoted to the thoughtful adoration of books elicits a tactile emotional response that clicking “Checkout” could never. The Booksellers is a fantastic watch for anyone who loves to read or anyone who needs to prove to their loved one why it’s of pivotal importance that they buy them that antique book on their wishlist.
featured image via WWNY
Booksellers across New York City have found themselves unemployed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Although this news is troubling, booksellers have banded together against the odds and have launched an online bookstore. The Bookstore At The End Of The World allows customers to purchase books online from established bookstores in New York.
Under the URL of bookshop.org, the e-bookstore was launched to raise money for indie bookstores. Through the website, booksellers are able to display a collection of purchasable books. Every book purchased goes towards the total amount of money raised for these local bookstores, which is equally split among the booksellers. The best news is, purchased books will be shipped right to your door!
Image Via Inc. Magazine
I had the opportunity to reach out to Jeff Waxman, the project coordinator. Waxman writes, “… the biggest success here was meeting a bunch of talented, thoughtful booksellers and giving them a place to be what they are.” Waxman continues to write about his experience through this community of booksellers.
Cheryl Sucher, Waxman’s colleague, refers to him as, “a force of nature.” She proceeds to write about the influence this pandemic has had on booksellers. Sucher closes with this statement, “Now Jeff Waxman has created a tool by which they can find that wisdom in one place on line, purchase the recommended books and not only support the independents but the booksellers themselves. Genius.”
It’s wonderful to know a community like this exists and I hope this will inspire booksellers around the world to come together during this time of isolation.
Featured Image Credited To Chad Felix
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