Writing on the Wall: Disappeared Booksellers and Free Expression in Hong Kong [Pen.org] provides the most comprehensive account to date of the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers [wiki: Causeway Bay Books Disappearances] in late 2015, and gives special attention to the worrying cases of booksellers Gui Minhai and Lee Bo, both foreign nationals who were seized by Chinese agents across borders—in Thailand and Hong Kong, respectively—in violation of international law. This unprecedented action reflects a dangerous escalation of China's tactics to silence dissidents even beyond its borders. [Full Report] [Executive Summary] [在此处阅读中文版执行摘要] [.pdf] [more inside]
One Country, Two Systems? Although none of the booksellers have disclosed their locations, a few have been in sporadic contact with family members to communicate, in opaque terms, that they are “assisting in an investigation.” On the phone with his wife, Sophie Choi, earlier last week, Lee conveyed that he was calling from Shenzhen, specifying that he, too, was voluntarily helping with a case but, strangely, spoke in Mandarin, the standard mainland dialect, rather than his native Cantonese. [more inside]
Conversations with Booksellers Extensive conversations with booksellers representing nine great American bookstores. From tiny Faulkner House Books in New Orleans to goliath Powell's City of Books in Portland, discussing issues relating to bookselling in these modern times.
President Obama visited an Amazon facility in Tennessee today giving a speech proposing a "grand bargain for middle-class jobs" that would cut the U.S. corporate tax rate and use billions of dollars in revenues generated by a business tax overhaul to fund projects aimed at creating jobs. The American Booksellers Association is not happy about the visit and called him out on it.
"I watched the entire street turn hot and black with smoke and then, after a few minutes, stared up at the hole in the roof and saw thousands of small gray ashes—pieces of paper, books, newspapers—floating down from the sky."
Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here is a project initiated by San Francisco bookseller and poet Beau Beausoleil that began as a response to the 2007 bombing [previously on MeFi] of the Baghdad bookselling center Al-Mutanabbi Street. After the attack the authorities made an effort to revive the area but recently the government has begun to make life difficult for the booksellers and intends to turn the street into an animal market. The Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project consists of book art created by 260 artists and authors from all over the world, but also includes essays, exhibitions and readings, some of which have been put online as videos. You can see a lot of artists' books online at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts and the Centre for Fine Print Research (1, 2, 3). The history of the project was told in a recent essay in World Literature Today by Persis M. Karim.
Given that a book collection can be quite valuable if it has a quirky theme, keep in mind that Books by Murderers is on its 5th installment (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th) over at the blog of respected London second hand bookshop Any Amount of Books. [more inside]
Indie Bookstores Rising: New York takes a look at a new crop of indie bookstores in New York City that are defying predictions of the death of the independent bookstore.
Oxfam, the 67-year-old Oxford-based confederation of multinational organizations, spends more than $600 million a year around the world fighting poverty, famine, climate change and discrimination. $32 million of that budget comes from book sales at its 130 second-hand bookshops in the UK, making them the second largest retailer of second-hand books in Europe. Now, independent booksellers are beginning to speak out about the competition. On the BBC, in the Telegraph, the Guardian, and the New York Times, some British booksellers are questioning the wisdom of charities using chain stores to raise funds. Are they “destroying lives here to save them elsewhere” as they’ve been accused of by one former UK bookseller, or is this the logical economic result of “the English town with the secondhand bookshop everybody loves but most people never actually go into.” as David McCullough, director of trading for Oxfam recently speculated?
Book sales are down. Powells, the largest independant bookseller in the US, is asking staff to scale back hours or take sabbaticals. Will you buy a book from an independent bookstore this Christmas?
UH OH, Fantagraphics Books in Seattle, home of chris ware, dan clowes, r. crumb, charles burns and a host of other awesome comic artists is facing desperate times!
If You Were Rich Would You Collect Modern First Editions? Well, it's difficult to browse Christie's upcoming auction of 20th century books and manuscripts; the stock of a well-known bookseller such as Ken Lopez or even go "bargain-hunting" at Amazon without understanding their appeal... [More inside.]
The American Bookseller's Association is taking on the big guys. The trial pits indie bookshops and sellers versus evil corporate behemoths Barnes & Noble and Borders, arguing the big chains get wholesale deal the little guys don't. Does the ABA have any chance in hell of winning?