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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Book Four

Yankee Bookseller, Being the Reminiscences of Charles E. Goodspeed, with many illustrations.

When this book was published in 1937, Mr. Goodspeed had been selling books for thirty-nine years. This is an autobiography of sorts, but also filled with literary anecdotes and information about auctions, first editions, appraisals, and Tamerlane. We are returned to a bygone era, but also note how little has changed in the world of the book dealer.

There are many photographs, one of which shows the interior of one of Mr. Goodspeed's shops. It looks cozy, almost like a personal library, and recalled to me the appearance and ambiance of Bookman's Alley. A large fireplace filled much of one wall, which recalled to me the warmth and ambiance of Cracker Barrel. And then we arrived at the intersection of three matrices: the library at home, comfortable reading beside your fire; the place of business warmed by the fire; and the modern bookstore with places to sit, sip a decaf cappacino, and read. What Barnes & Noble and Borders needs is a large fireplace to complete the book-buying experience they offer.

Recently we suggested there was something not quite right about a bookstore that also sells trinkets and unbookish merchandise. Mr. Goodspeed explains our discomfort:
Sculptor's work is not, of course, sold in bookstores. Book-dealers are conservative folk; to gain recognition of their occupation as a profession rather than a trade, they should resist the temptation to go far afield, or to add to their stock more profitable articles of general utility not related to their regular merchandise.
Ours is a profession, not a trade.

We give it three (out of four) pipefuls.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds wonderful. To my surprise, my university library has a copy of it on hand, so I can go off in search of it on Monday.