Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Books & Mortar by Gibbs M. Smith

The author and illustrator Gibbs M. Smith, along with his wife, started his book publishing company, Gibbs Smith, in 1969. He died in 2017. According to the note in the back of the book, Books & Mortar, it's a celebration of his legacy, the local bookstores that he loved, and fifty years of Gibbs Smith as an independent publisher. The subtitle of this beautiful small book is "A Celebration of the Local Bookstore".

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.) -

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.


SandyG265 said...

Sounds interesting. I like going to local bookstores when I travel.

Lesa said...

I do, too, Sandy.

Kaye Barley said...

Oooooh - this sounds as though it needs to be on my shelf! A trip isn't a trip without finding a bookstore or two

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Nice. The cover illustration reminds me of the late, lamented Eighth Street Bookshop in Greenwich Village, where I spent many a lunchtime when I was working nearby 45 years ago.

Lesa said...

I agree, Kaye. Honestly? I enjoy exploring a bookstore more than a library. (Don't tell anyone.)

Lesa said...

There are a few late, lamented bookstores in this one, unfortunately, Jeff. But, also some wonderful ones that are still around.

Gram said...

It sounded interesting enough that I immediately put in a request through the statewide Inter Library Loan service. Thanks.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Gram. I hope you enjoy it!