Sorry about missing Link-Mad Monday; we're having a (thankfully) very busy holiday at the bookstore, with mountains of boxes to unpack every day, a constant stream of customers with requests, questions, and piles of purchases, and lots (I mean LOTS) of giftwrapping. It's all pretty joyous, except for the occasional nervous breakdown, usually remedied with a Mental Health Break (MHB) and some cookies or coffee (LOTS of coffee). Check out "'Tis The Week Before Christmas" by Janet Potter of Brookline & Wellesley Booksmiths in Massachusetts in today's Shelf Awareness for a taste of the flavor of Christmas week in an indie bookstore.
I've got a day to rest up, make Christmas cookies and finish up those last mix CDs (my perennial gift to family and friends, along with books, of course), and to draw your attention to some items in the news, several of which relate to the ongoing conversation about indie bookstores and community.
Russ Lawrence, one of the owners of Chapter One Book Store in Hamilton, Montana, is also the president of the American Booksellers Association. He's written this article in Bookselling This Week about the struggle -- and the necessity -- of working together as independent bookstores, as well as the rewards he's found in seeing cooperation increase during his term. It's an insightful article that both acknowledges our history and looks to the future -- check it out!
Bud Parr of Chekhov's Mistress hepped me to the fact that he's got an annotated list of New York City independent bookstores on his blog, often updated and quite personable. It's a great intro to our fabulous bookstore scene.
Sadly, Bud's going to have to remove one more store from that list: the New York Times reports today that Mystery Ink and Ivy Books will close at the end of this month. The article mentions, among other things, a monthly rent of $18,000 (!!!) as one of the reasons for the closure, as well as the encroachment of chains and the aging of its customer base. These Upper West Side bookstores were neighborhood institutions, and their closure is truly a huge loss to our community. If you're local, try to visit the store before the 31st and show your support.
The NY Times also has taken an unusual step in offering up the editor of the Book Review, Sam Tanenhaus, for questions as part of their "Talk to the Newsroom" series. The NYTBR is often considered the book world version of "The Man", the arbitrary arbiter of taste and the seat of power, and thus comes in for a lot of criticism (some of it justified) for not including enough women authors, women reviewers, indie press books, etc. Tanenhaus responds to some of these criticisms and others in this interview. It's an interesting look behind the scenes at one of the major institutions of the literary world, run, as they all are, by just some guy like the rest of us.
But there are other resources for book news and reviews, as you blog readers know, and the spate of comments and links recently has led me to some new ones. Antiquarian Michael Lieberman's Book Patrol is a great new discovery, with a bookseller's perspective and a ton of great links. The anonymous author of Bibliotonic (I only know she's an editor) has a nice retrospective on the closing of Micawber's bookstore in Princeton. And she also led me to the blog of Wendy Werris, longtime beloved sales rep and author of An Alphabetical Life; her take on the book tour from one who's seen all sides is hilarious. There's always plenty to read, isn't there?
This will probably be my last post before Christmas -- I'm working straight through until Saturday, then flying home for a flying visit to my family, replete with tears and giggles and songs and movies and books and food and lots of idiosyncratic traditions. I'll try to check back before New Year's to post reviews of my last couple of books (the suspenseful question: will the holiday reading put me over the "52 books in a year mark" I aimed for in January?), and with my own year-end best-of list. In the meantime, I'm curious -- any books on your Christmas list, for giving or getting? And what WILL you read on the plane?
Thanks so much for all of your links, emails, comments, and just for reading -- it's been a wonderful year, and it's ending on a high note, I think. A very Merry Christmas to all, and to all -- happy reading!