I love seeing the bookshops and meeting the booksellers-- booksellers really are a special breed. No one in their right mind would take up clerking in a bookstore for the salary, and no one in his right mind would want to own one-- the margin of profit is too small. So, it has to be a love of readers and reading that makes them do it-- along with first dibs on the new books.
Mary Ann Shaffer
These days, we've got booksellers in cities, in deserts, and in the middle of a rain forest; we've got travelling bookshops, and bookshops underground. We've got bookshops in barns, in caravans and in converted Victorian railway stations. We've even got booksellers selling books in the middle of a war. Are bookshops still relevant? They certainly are. All bookshops are full of stories, and stories want to be heard.
The marketplace for books when I entered the business shortly after World War II consisted of a thousand or so well stocked independent booksellers in major towns and cities supplemented by thousands of smaller shops that carried limited stocks of mostly current titles along with greeting cards, toys and so on.
I've mis-signed many a book Rollins or Clemens. My readers quickly become aware. Booksellers will often promote me under both names, and I do plug both at signings. Generally, the fantasy reader has no problem going into the suspense genre. It's harder for the typical suspense reader to go the other direction.
There are three difficulties in authorship;-to write any thing worth the publishing-to find honest men to publish it -and to get sensible men to read it. Literature has now become a game; in which the Booksellers are the Kings; The Critics the Knaves; the Public, the Pack; and the poor Author, the mere table, or the Thing played upon.
Charles Caleb Colton
We have all sorts of conditions of booksellers: one is fanatic on the subject of libraries. He thinks that every public library should be dynamited. Another thinks that moving pictures will destroy the book trade. What rot! Surely everything that arouses people's minds, that makes them alert and questing, increases their appetite for books. - Roger Mifflin
Old or new, the only sign I always try to rid my books of (usually with little success) is the price-sticker that malignant booksellers attach to the backs. These evil white scabs rip off with difficulty, leaving leprous wounds and traces of slime to which adhere the dust and fluff of ages, making me wish for a special gummy hell to which the inventor of these stickers would be condemned.
Publishers, readers, booksellers, even critics, acclaim the novel that one can deliciously sink into, forget oneself in, the novel that returns us to the innocence of childhood or the dream of the cartoon, the novel of a thousand confections and no unwanted significance. What becomes harder to find, and lonelier to defend, is the idea of the novel as-in Ford Madox Ford's words-a 'medium of profoundly serious investigation into the human case.
For when I trace back the years I have liv'd, gathering them up in my Memory, I see what a chequer'd Work Of Nature my life has been. If I were now to inscribe my own History with its unparalleled Sufferings and surprizing Adventures (as the Booksellers might indite it), I know that the great Part of the World would not believe the Passages there related, by reason of the Strangeness of them, but I cannot help their Unbelief; and if the Reader considers them to be but dark Conceits, then let him bethink himself that Humane life is quite out of the Light and that we are all Creatures of Darknesse.
Josephy visited several leading Manhattan bookstores and sadly discovered the explanation [from his agent] to be generally correct; books about Indians were shelved in the back of the stores alongside books about natural history, dinosaurs, plants, birds, and animals rather than being placed alongside biographies and histories of Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans, and other great world cultures. Puzzled, Josephy began asking bookstore managers for a justification of this marketing tactic and was informed that Indian books had 'just always been placed there.' The longer he pondered booksellers' indifference toward Indians, the more annoyed Josephy became with the realization that bookstore marketing tactics were simply a reflection of the pervasive thinking throughout the United States in 1961: Americans believed Indians to be a vanished people. 'Thinking about it made me angry, ' Josephy wrote in his autobiography, 'and I vowed that someday, some way, I would do something about this ignorant insult.
You should read the book that you hear two booksellers arguing about at the registers while you're browsing in a bookstore. You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they're laughing. You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they're crying. You should read the book that you find left behind in the airplane seat pocket, on a park bench, on the bus, at a restaurant, or in a hotel room. You should read the book that you see someone reading for hours in a coffee shop - there when you got there and still there when you left - that made you envious because you were working instead of absorbed in a book. You should read the book you find in your grandparents' house that's inscribed 'To Ray, all my love, Christmas 1949.' You should read the book that you didn't read when it was assigned in your high school English class. You'd probably like it better now anyway. You should read the book whose author happened to mention on Charlie Rose that their favorite band is your favorite band. You should read the book that your favorite band references in their lyrics. You should read the book that your history professor mentions and then says, 'which, by the way, is a great book, ' offhandedly. You should read the book that you loved in high school. Read it again. You should read the book that you find on the library's free cart whose cover makes you laugh. You should read the book whose main character has your first name. You should read the book whose author gets into funny Twitter exchanges with Colson Whitehead. You should read the book about your hometown's history that was published by someone who grew up there. You should read the book your parents give you for your high school graduation. You should read the book you've started a few times and keep meaning to finish once and for all. You should read books with characters you don't like. You should read books about countries you're about to visit. You should read books about historical events you don't know anything about. You should read books about things you already know a little about. You should read books you can't stop hearing about and books you've never heard of. You should read books mentioned in other books. You should read prize-winners, bestsellers, beach reads, book club picks, and classics, when you want to. You should just keep reading.
The street sprinkler went past and, as its rasping rotary broom spread water over the tarmac, half the pavement looked as if it had been painted with a dark stain. A big yellow dog had mounted a tiny white bitch who stood quite still. In the fashion of colonials the old gentleman wore a light jacket, almost white, and a straw hat. Everything held its position in space as if prepared for an apotheosis. In the sky the towers of Notre-Dame gathered about themselves a nimbus of heat, and the sparrows - minor actors almost invisible from the street - made themselves at home high up among the gargoyles. A string of barges drawn by a tug with a white and red pennant had crossed the breadth of Paris and the tug lowered its funnel, either in salute or to pass under the Pont Saint-Louis. Sunlight poured down rich and luxuriant, fluid and gilded as oil, picking out highlights on the Seine, on the pavement dampened by the sprinkler, on a dormer window, and on a tile roof on the eŽle Saint-Louis. A mute, overbrimming life flowed from each inanimate thing, shadows were violet as in impressionist canvases, taxis redder on the white bridge, buses greener. A faint breeze set the leaves of a chestnut tree trembling, and all down the length of the quai there rose a palpitation which drew voluptuously nearer and nearer to become a refreshing breath fluttering the engravings pinned to the booksellers' stalls. People had come from far away, from the four corners of the earth, to live that one moment. Sightseeing cars were lined up on the parvis of Notre-Dame, and an agitated little man was talking through a megaphone. Nearer to the old gentleman, to the bookseller dressed in black, an American student contemplated the universe through the view-finder of his Leica. Paris was immense and calm, almost silent, with her sheaves of light, her expanses of shadow in just the right places, her sounds which penetrated the silence at just the right moment. The old gentleman with the light-coloured jacket had opened a portfolio filled with coloured prints and, the better to look at them, propped up the portfolio on the stone parapet. The American student wore a red checked shirt and was coatless. The bookseller on her folding chair moved her lips without looking at her customer, to whom she was speaking in a tireless stream. That was all doubtless part of the symphony. She was knitting. Red wool slipped through her fingers. The white bitch's spine sagged beneath the weight of the big male, whose tongue was hanging out. And then when everything was in its place, when the perfection of that particular morning reached an almost frightening point, the old gentleman died without saying a word, without a cry, without a contortion while he was looking at his coloured prints, listening to the voice of the bookseller as it ran on and on, to the cheeping of the sparrows, the occasional horns of taxis. He must have died standing up, one elbow on the stone ledge, a total lack of astonishment in his blue eyes. He swayed and fell to the pavement, dragging along with him the portfolio with all its prints scattered about him. The male dog wasn't at all frightened, never stopped. The woman let her ball of wool fall from her lap and stood up suddenly, crying out: 'Monsieur Bouvet!