Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Books & Mortar by Gibbs M. Smith
What makes it special? Smith was an artist, as well as a publisher. He illustrated the book, usually oil paintings of well-known local bookstores throughout the county, with a few well-known international ones included. Then, he quoted authors about bookstores, and he told a short history of the founding ownership, and history of each of the bookstores. There are illustrations of sixty-seven, although a few of them have closed, and one has reopened.
I've been to five of the bookstores; Kramerbooks & Afterwords in Washington, D.C., Parnassus Books in Nashville, The Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, and Shakespeare & Co., Paris, France. And, I hope to get to a couple more in June in New York City.
The book was released this year, and written the year before. But, Smith mentioned some well-known bookstores, most of which closed in the 1990s. There are eight that closed, although I understand Shakespeare & Co. in New York City is coming back. (Here is an excellent article about independent bookstores in New York.) - https://nyti.ms/2Goku0a
If you get a chance to pick up Books & Mortar, I hope you enjoy all the artwork, the paintings of the bookstores, as much as I did. And, each bookstore has its own mission. One of my favorite authors, Christopher Morley, is quoted on the back of this book. "Lord! when you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humor and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book." I think all of the people passionate about their bookstores feel that way.
Books & Mortar: A Celebration of the Local Bookstore by Gibbs M. Smith. Gibbs Smith, 2018. ISBN 9781423650430 (hardcover), 152p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of the book.