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September 5, 2013 11:25 AM   Subscribe

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.
posted by Toekneesan (18 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I was just excited to realize that I've been in both Faulkner House Books and Powell's.

Love them both.
posted by nubs at 12:15 PM on September 5, 2013

Faulkner is my favorite bookstore evar. Because it is so small, they choose very carefully. Pretty sure I bought my Confederacy of Dunces there.

I know a retiree who bought a bookstore recently in a small town. They feel it's a form of philanthropy as it doesn't make money but it serves a public function, although they don't use the term "third place" as in the video. Like McDonald's, they are hoping it's a real estate play in the long run.
posted by acheekymonkey at 12:32 PM on September 5, 2013

I was born to be a bookseller. I did it for six years, but then realized there was no way to do this and keep myself fed. 15 years on I run into customers and I can still remember their tastes.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:42 PM on September 5, 2013 [8 favorites]

I have to wonder: was the irony of presenting this in video form intentional?

It'll be available in mass market paperback this spring.
posted by dubold at 12:59 PM on September 5, 2013

Faulkner House wut wut!
posted by resurrexit at 1:12 PM on September 5, 2013

Speaking of Powell's, their store at PDX Airport has RUINED me for all other airport shops.

People who enjoy bookstores may enjoy the book I'm currently reading: Sixpence House, which I picked up on the recommendation of a friend. The author is Paul Collins (who wrote Banvard's Folly, one of my all-time fav books), his wife and infant son and their adventures in Hay-on-Wye, a town of 1,500 residents and some forty bookstores.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:53 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Speaking of Powell's, their store at PDX Airport has RUINED me for all other airport shops.

I was pleased to find a well curated used book store at the Durham, NC airport.
posted by Jahaza at 2:13 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

As much as I love bookstores -- and the bookstore I go to most often shows up in this video -- I can't get as excited about them as I can about libraries, just because the books in the library are freeee.

But there are exceptions. At various times in my life I've been into small press books, or mysteries, or political books, and finding small, focused bookstores for those areas was great.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:31 PM on September 5, 2013

Also, I don't know if you're aware of the magnificent author, Sherman Alexie, but he just started a campaign encouraging authors to visit their fav indie on Small Business Saturday, aka day after Black Friday, to handsell their books, and maybe help out.
posted by Toekneesan at 4:02 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Like cjorgensen, I am an ex-bookseller. I miss getting the right book into the right person's hands (and I miss selling kids books to excited kids), but I do not miss the poverty wages, abusive customers or weekend hours.
posted by bibliogrrl at 4:12 PM on September 5, 2013

Milwaukee's Renaissance Books has an impressive branch at the airport there. It's a great airport anyway but the bookstore pushes it into my Top Five.
posted by padraigin at 6:49 PM on September 5, 2013

I was pleased to find a well curated used book store at the Durham, NC airport.

I used to regularly fly in and out of Milwaukee's General Mitchell Airport and Renaissance Book Shop was quite fantastic. However, be noted that it is located in the pre-TSA rectal exam area, so get to the airport earlier than you thought to get some time to browse there...*

*I may or may not have made this unfortunate mistake several times.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 6:53 PM on September 5, 2013

Faulkner's is worth the drive down from Memphis to New Orleans alone, though the fact that you could stop by Square Books in Oxford, MS makes it doubly so. And if you're in Memphis, you have to stop by Burke's Bookstore in the Cooper-Young district, a fine locally owned independent bookstore and The Booksellers at Laurelwood, another local independent. The latter was once 'Davis-Kidd' in Memphis, but now has a clunkier name due to rescue by Neil Van Uum.

I remember my first visit to Faulkner's: I came away convinced the owner had signed a deal with the devil to fill the shelves with such wonderful first and signed editions. My wife bought me a signed pre-print edition of Czeslaw Milosz' "The Unattainable Earth" for my birthday. If the house were on fire, it's on the rescue list.

As an aside: I met Milosz in the late 80s. I remember him reading wonderful poems, including one that rhymed in the original and English, which seemed no mean feat. He autographed my copy of "The Captive Mind", another work I would rescue.
posted by grimjeer at 7:22 PM on September 5, 2013

Can I say that I have never used the restroom in a bookstore... and never knew if some of the smaller ones even had a restroom?
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:09 PM on September 5, 2013

Faulkner House Bookstore owners have converted a fourth floor apartment into a writer’s dream room: a book-lined study and guest room in a sunny Tuscan mustard shade (putty and Venetian red over bright yellow), with recessed bookcases. Numerous well-known writers have stayed there, including Joan Williams, Willie Morris, Barry Hannah, Bret Lott, William Styron, Robert Olen Butler and Roy Blount Jr. Signed copies of their books and other rare editions of the Faulkner House collection line the custom cypress bookcases.

posted by JujuB at 10:53 PM on September 5, 2013

I'm sorry Mitchell Kaplan but the Playstation 2 is already "the third place".
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:39 AM on September 6, 2013

I discovered Faulkner House by accident, and now make it a point to stop and buy a book there when in New Orleans. Have shopped at Powell's but never in person... Yet.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:27 AM on September 6, 2013

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