Saturday, January 06, 2007
For much the same reason why I can write an article on the half dozen major poets who died in 2006, but none for those who were born this same year, newspapers routinely give us the Death of a Bookstore article, but very seldom announce startups of independent books. There were, however, at least 94 bookstores that were created in the
These are bookstores that started and joined the
These 94 bookstores will not reverse the trend that has seen the ABA’s membership decline from a high of 4,700 in 1993 to its current figure of around 2,500, but they do slow it down somewhat. Without 94 new bookshops last year, 90 in 2005, the
I have no idea how many – if any – of these stores meet my four simple criteria for maintaining a decent poetry section –
It’s not the furthest most back corner of the store.
It’s more than a single section of one book case.
Most importantly, a majority of the books are from small presses. University presses, by any definition, are not small presses.
And a sizeable majority of the books should be by living authors as well.
But wherever there’s life there’s hope.
It’s worth noting that just nine of the newbies are located in cities large enough to have a major league sports team of some kind (I’m not including
Suburban bookshops have different profiles than those of city centers, in good part because they depend on a more localized clientele – city centers not only have immediate residents in higher density, but also the suburbanites who come into town each day. There is a powerful psychological bias that says its easier to go into town than it is out into the ‘burbs – even out here in the boonies, people tend to focus their routines around an immediate radius of their homes & whatever lies between them and downtown Philly. My friends in
What are the chances that a suburban bookstore would meet my four criteria for a decent poetry selection? Pretty close to none, tho Chester County Book Company in
Still, without these, the inevitability that the
¹ The current Serendipity in Berkeley, located in an old wine shop on University, represents only one aspect, rare books, of the original operation, which got started shortly after the Berkeley Poetry Conference of 1965 when Peter Howard & Jack Shoemaker took over the stock of the Unicorn Bookshop in Santa Barbara.