Monday, January 23, 2006

Comment: Booksellers in Blogland

If you're a book person who spends time online, you're probably aware of at least some of the literary blogs out there. MobyLives has great author interviews and a new radio show (and has launched the successful Melville House press); the LitBlog Co-op is a group of bloggers who effectively promote under-appreciated books; and of course, BookSlut is a great source for book reviews, news and chatter (though I've been clicking there less recently as the writers' snarkiness has started to get to me). There are dozens of others, by publishing types or writers or just book lovers: GalleyCat and Elegant Variation and Beatrice and Chekhov's Mistress and on and on. Clicking on any one of these will probably lead you to a list of links to dozens of others, any of which are worth reading on a good day.

But I want to give some attention to a specific segment of the literary blogosphere: the booksellers who blog. These are a special kind of reader and book lover, as I've repeatedly stressed here; their insights are not only those of a voracious reader with discriminating tastes, but those of a witness to the retail world, the moment when the literature hits the streets. I wanted to take a moment to recognize my fellow bookseller bloggers, all of whom make for good reading. So here are a couple of those I've discovered.

Bookdwarf - The proprietor of this lively and informative little blog is (like yours truly) a young female frontline bookseller; she works at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA. I often find myself stealing links or news from Bookdwarf; she's well-informed, readable, and she's got great taste.

Bookologist - Edith Reynolds, the voice behind Bookologist, has a bio that will tell you all about her on the front page of this blog; she and her husband own an antiquarian bookstore in Waterbury, CT, and she's a writer and journalist as well. This blog (like The Written Nerd) is concerned with developments and ideas in the book industry, and especially those that play out in the bookstore. Mature and insightful, Bookologist is a bookselling wonk's destination.

Bookseller To The Stars - This is the often hilarious blog of Mark Farley, a bookseller in a chain store in a region of London near Notting Hill (made famously bookish by Hugh Grant's diffident bookseller in the movie named after the neighborhood). While he's always reading, Farley's blog isn't always concerned with books and bookselling, but often with the inanities of British pop culture; he loves poking fun at his mindless celebrity customers. I love reading this one to get some affirmation of the trials of the bookseller's life, and for a good laugh at Farley's wicked wit.

Necessary Acts of Devotion - This is a meditative blog written by several employees of Quill Hill, a used and antiquarian bookstore in Oglesby, Illinois. These clever folks write about such bookish topics as great first and last lines, the morality of marginalia, and the perfect book for a long winter evening. They're the kind of people you'd love to hang out and chat with on a slow day in your corner bookstore.

Fresh Eyes - I save this one for last because it's my favorite one to read, and because it falls slightly outside the bookseller-as-blogger paradigm. The blogger, Robert Gray, was until December a Master Bookseller at Northshire Books in Northshire, VT; he has since retired from the sales floor to launch Fresh Eyes Now, a venture which endeavors to "create bridges" between publishers and frontline booksellers, highlighting the power and importance of good bookstore staff in selling books other than the NYT bestsellers. He still considers himself a bookseller, just in a different venue, and his book recommendations are as right-on as his ideas about the industry. Gray has been something of a bookselling and blogging mentor to yours truly, and I'm excited to see how his project develops, and to read his thoughtful and lucid writing about it as he goes.


Hope some of these give you something interesting to poke around in on what seems to be (in New York anyway) a cold and rainy Monday. And keep an eye on your own local bookseller -- there may be more going on there than you think.