“We’re in a juncture right now where bookstores as we have known them are at risk. Libraries as we’ve known them are at risk, publishers are at risk, American literature is at risk, as we’ve known it, and getting kids reading is at risk.
The government has stepped in to help banks, automobiles, anything where money is concerned, but nobody seems to care about books and our bookstores. …And I’m telling you, American literature is in jeopardy.”
– James Patterson
Well said, Mr. Patterson.
Last September, the best-selling author pledged to personally give $1 million to independent bookstores around the country. Yesterday, he announced the first round of 55 stores that would receive over $267,000. More funds will be distributed in stages throughout the year. The grants range from $2,000 – $15,000, with the recipients free to determine their best use. Learn more about Mr. Patterson’s initiative on NPR, The New York Times, and The San Francisco Chronicle.
You can sign up to receive information about his efforts on “Saving Bookstores, Saving Lives” – and tell him about your favorite independent booksellers – at his official website.
Ann Christophersen and Linda Bubon opened Women and Children First in Chicago to “promote the work of women writers and to create a place in which all women would find books reflecting their lives and interests.” W&CF has grown to become one of the largest independent feminist bookstores in the country, featuring thousands of books by and about women, children’s books, and lesbian and gay fiction and non-fiction. Now, more than 33 years later, Ms. Christophersen and Ms. Bubon would like to retire and sell the store to someone who is just as passionate and interested in continuing its original mission. You can read more in this Tribune article.
After 33 years, Bookman’s Alley will close at the end of September, so there are just a few weeks to browse this beloved Evanston treasure. The Evanston Patch has a great article about the store and owner Roger Carlson, as well as a photographic tour.
Author Richard Russo has a nice op-ed in the New York Times about his thoughts on Amazon’s latest gimmick against brick-and-mortar bookstores.
You will be familiar with the names of some of these shops, but when was the last time you visited Myopic Books in Wicker Park or the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop? Read this list of noteworthy Chicago bookstores and consider taking a trip in the next few weeks. Browsing the shelves is always more fun than surfing the Net, isn’t it?
“I don’t know if I’m opening an ice shop in the age of Frigidaire, but I can’t live in a city that doesn’t have a bookstore.”
– Ann Patchett
On the heels of the sad news that Bookman’s Alley will soon be closing, it may be of some comfort to hear about Parnassus Books, which is opening in Nashville. Co-owned by renowned author Ann Patchett and “publishing veteran” Karen Hayes, Parnassus Books will be “an independent bookstore for independent people.” Patchett sought advice from Daniel Godin, owner of Milwaukee’s Boswell Book Company. You can learn more about Parnassus Books here and here.
Neil Steinberg’s column in the November 4 Chicago Sun-Times caught my attention when I saw the headline “Bad news out of Evanston”. Bookman’s Alley, which opened in 1980 has been a treasure trove of books, some rare, and art, and an Evanston haven for many book devotees. According to the article, the store is closing in January 2012. Go there now for their 30 percent off sale.
A sampling of independent bookstore owners in the US, Australia, and New Zealand shows mixed feelings about the collapse of the number two bookseller in the US. Some owners expressed sadness about any decrease in bookselling capacity, even that of a competitor. Others sounded determined to make adjustments and keep working hard.