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February 21, 2014

18 Bookstores Every Book Lover Must Visit At Least Once

Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy.

Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy.

By Ashley Lutz

Bookstores can be a destination upon themselves.

From Venice to Mexico City, check out some of the most interesting book retailers out there.

1. Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy. 

This bookstore features classic volumes of American and Italian books packed in traditional Venetian gondola boats. But the show-stopping attraction is the back of the bookstore, which opens up to a beautiful canal.

“It’s a bookshop right on the canal that floods every year, so the eccentric, stray-cat-adopting owner keeps his books in boats, bathtubs and a disused gondola to protect them,” writes Paris Review.

The store is also lauded for its extensive art and postcard collections.

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June 14, 2013

Rise of the bookshops

Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett

| By Ann Patchett

Booksellers do not guard their best secrets: they are a generous tribe and were quick to welcome me into their fold and to give me advice. I was told to hang merchandise from the ceiling whenever possible, because people long to buy whatever requires a ladder to cut it down. The children’s section should always be in a back corner of the store, so that when parents inevitably wandered off and started reading, their offspring could be caught before they busted out of the store. I received advice about bookkeeping, bonuses, staff recommendations and websites.

While I was flying from city to city, Karen [Hayes] was driving around the South in a U-haul, buying up shelving at rock-bottom prices from various Borders stores that were liquidating. I had written one check before I left, for a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and I kept asking if she needed more money. No, she didn’t need more money.

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May 15, 2013

Brick and mortar: Best indie bookstores

Author Ann Patchett, shown here at Parnassus Books, co-founded the Nashville bookstore at the end of 2011.

Author Ann Patchett, shown here at Parnassus Books, co-founded the Nashville bookstore at the end of 2011.

By Hilary Davidson

In the age of Amazon and e-books, common wisdom claims that brick-and-mortar bookstores are going the way of the dinosaurs. If a national chain such as Borders, which folded in 2011, couldn’t succeed in this climate, what are the odds of an independent shop going the distance?

Surprisingly good, it turns out.

I’ve published three novels over the past three years, and each time I head out on tour, I discover amazing bookstores. While it’s hard to beat the Internet for sheer efficiency, virtual book-buying can’t satisfy the same itch for discovery that browsing in person can. Moreover, it’s become easy to love e-books and local stores since Kobo started partnering with independents to make some 3 million titles available electronically.

The stores that are succeeding offer a mix of author visits, staff recommendations and community outreach that’s impossible to replace. While there are incredible indies all over North America, these are my favorites:

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How to Shop at a Bookstore: An Easy 20-Step Guide for Authors

Filed under: Bookshops — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 1:52 pm

bookshop-300x225By Rebecca Makkai

1) First, smell it. Look at the new arrivals, lined up like candy. See if, for just one second, you can remember what it was like to walk into a bookstore as a reader. Just a reader, a happy, curious reader. With no agenda, no insecurities, no history of bookstores as scenes of personal failure and triumph. Wish for a time machine.


2) Nervously check how the store seems to be doing. Are the lights still on? Do the employees look well-fed? Thank God. The world isn’t over yet.

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April 17, 2013

SA’s Van Schaik and Exclusive Books up for sale

van_scaik_copy | By Benedicte Page

South Africa’s Times Media Group has announced its decision to sell its book retail chains, Exclusive Books and Van Schaik.

The media company’s c.e.o. Andrew Bonamour said: “We are in the process of focusing the group around its core media businesses and while both book retail businesses hold a strong position in their respective trade book and academic book markets, they are not aligned with out future strategic direction.”

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March 25, 2013

You can’t get this book from Amazon

Trains and Lovers.One of the ways in which bookshops can fight back against online retailers is to give the customer something more than just the book itself.

By Alexander McCall Smith

Some years ago I went into a house without books. It was in the Cayman Islands, and it was not an inexpensive place – a modernist cube right on the shore, with white carpets throughout to match the white of the beach that made the front garden. Large windows, wall size, looked out over an almost clichéd Caribbean view: turquoise ocean, a reef, sea-grape trees. But no books; wherever I looked, there were no books.

If it is bad enough going into a house with no books, how much worse is it to arrive in a town with no bookshop. That experience, unfortunately, has become quite common these days.

If books are part of the soul of any house, then bookshops are the equivalent for a town. A High Street without a bookshop is a street given over to the purely material needs of shoppers – food, clothing, hardware: there is nothing for the soul.

Of course, economics has little time for all this. Bookshops exist because people want to buy books in them, and if they do not want to buy them there, then bookshops will close. Economics ultimately pays scant attention to cultural claims.

The owners of bookshops understand this only too well. For them, one of the most threatening developments of the recent past – and which saw the closure of 400 bookshops last year – has been the rise of online shopping. It is just too easy – and who can say they have resisted the temptation – to press a button and have a book drop through the letter-box the next morning. And if it is pointed out to us that buying books this way will bring bricks and mortar shops to their knees, we may say: “Yes, but the convenience…”

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March 20, 2013

With courthouse closed, couple ties the knot at Annapolis Bookstore

By Joe Burris,

The bride looked radiant in her pink and white dress. The groom was dapper in his business suit. The ceremony backdrop consisted of books on shelves, books on tables and a backroom cafe with patrons who seemed oblivious to the whole thing.

Welcome to the Annapolis Bookstore wedding of Mark Hutson and Melanie Frances, a couple who on Wednesday proved neither rain, snow nor a government shutdown could prevent them from uniting in holy matrimony.

While Wednesday’s winter storm proved to be a nuisance for many, it provided a matrimonial wrinkle for Hutson, from Severna Park and Frances, from Montreal.

The two had planned to get married at the Anne Arundel County courthouse. But when Wednesday’s threat of snow closed government buildings, the two called bookstore proprietors Mary Adams and Janice Holmes and requested an impromptu wedding at the shop — the site where Hutson had popped the question.

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March 19, 2013

Jersey City man runs free bookstore six days a week

Owner Anthony Olszewki browses the stacks at Jersey City Free Books. JCFB is a community book exchange located at 297 Griffith St. in The Heights in Jersey City. Books are free to give and take.

Owner Anthony Olszewki browses the stacks at Jersey City Free Books. JCFB is a community book exchange located at 297 Griffith St. in The Heights in Jersey City. Books are free to give and take.

By Hinaa Noor

For four years running, the Jersey City Free Books store on Griffith Street in the Heights has been Anthony Olszewski’s labor of love.

More than 500 books fiction, history, do-it-yourself manuals, you name it are crammed into his storefront rental. And it’s all free to anyone yearning to learn something new.

“One of the greatest things I have experienced here is that people would come in search for one of their favorite (books) and they would end up taking five or more (books) at the end,” said Olszewski, who earns a living fixing computers.

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March 7, 2013

Amazon and Achieving the Moral Middle Ground

Filed under: Bookshops — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 7:57 am


moleskineBy Jared Shurin

So here’s a thing – not sure if it is blog-worthy or not, but if it isn’t written, it won’t happen.

I had a really nice chat in a bookshop the other day. I was leering at Moleskines (Hobbit Moleskines, in fact, because that’s how I roll), as was another guy. We chatted a bit about the notebooks – how we use them (or don’t), how silly they are (but we get them anyway), how many we have (way too many), etc. Dude had 28 notebooks. Which sounds extreme, but then he explained that he has one for each project – whenever he’s got a new scheme, he gets a new notebook. Awesome idea, and were I 1/8000th as organised, I’d follow suit. (My notebooks? I try to keep them magical and inviolate, but inevitably tear out pages, jot down to-do lists, etc. Ruined.)

Anyway, it was a silly conversation and I’ve had a thousand just like them in bookstores all over the world. Sometimes they happen with the staff. Sometimes with other customers. Sometimes at events. Hell, sometimes I even manage to have meaningful conversations with other readers at events that I’ve organised.


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March 4, 2013

The Future For Bookshops Is To Pave The Cowpaths

arthur-attwell_toc_disruptive-innovations_20130211-paperight-charts2By Suw Charman-Anderson

Paperight, a South African start-up, could be clearing a path for bookshops internationally to expand their reach without having to open new bricks-and-mortar stores. The Shuttleworth-funded operation acts as a facilitator for publishers in South Africa to get their books printed, on demand, in copy shops, which are ubiquitous and more accessible than bookshops.

Founder and CEO Arthur Attwell, explains Paperight’s background:

South Africa is like two different countries: about 2 million wealthy people who support the publishing industry (excluding schools publishing, where the state is the largest client by far), and about 48 million people who could never afford an ereader, don’t have credit cards to buy things online, or can’t afford to physically travel to a bookstore. So to make it possible for most people to read books, we need to totally rethink how we sell books. And that’s going to take some disruptive innovations.

So instead of trying to get more South Africans online or using ereaders, Attwell saw that it was cheaper and easier to improve access to printed books. Copy shops were already being used to photocopy books illegally, so it was clear that there was already demand for such a service. Attwell told Ventureburn:

African countries have very few bookstores and ebooks are spreading very slowly. Photocopy shops, however, are everywhere, and in most places in Africa, they provide an important social function by photocopying books that people need, but can’t find or can’t afford to buy. Paperight was started to help legalise that process.

Publishers have embraced the idea, writes Kevin Anderson* on Knowledge Bridge:

Before Paperight, publishers would see the copy shop activity as piracy and lost sales. Paperight delivered a way for them to convert illegal activity into legal sales. With this compelling case, Paperight has already signed up 40 publishers and offers 1400 titles, including text books, study materials, literary classics, magazines and even sheet music. The start-up first approached copy shop chains to grow their distribution network as quickly as possible. The barrier to become a Paperight outlet is low. Copy shops only need to go to and register their shop. Paperight is now available in 145 outlets in South Africa.

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