Looks like we can silence the death knell sounding the demise of the independent bookstore – for now. And ironically, the good news hales from Seattle, home of Amazon which is often blamed for how these bookstores are struggling and, even worse, closing. Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company, one of the city’s largest independent booksellers, reports its first substantial profit in almost 20 years! According to the American Booksellers Association Seattle has become one of the most successful independent bookstore cities in the country.
I was also surprised to learn that Tom Nissley, the author of a book I picked up this winter and turn the pages of every day, recently signed a contract to buy and run his own independent Seattle bookstore, Phinney Books. And guess what? He’s a former Amazon employee. I’m loving Nissley’s “A Reader’s Book of Days.” Besides the predictable author birth and death dates, each day has literary tidbits: educational, moving and or funny —
April 13, 1963: “Flannery O’Connor confessed to a friend, ‘The other day I postponed my work an hour to look at W.C. Field in ‘Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.'”
February 22, 1938: “On his thirteenth birthday, Edward Gorey joined the crowd at a Sonja Henie ice show in a snowball-throwing riot.”
For each month, Nissley also supplies a suggested reading list. What more could a book lover ask for?
Alas, with the good, must come the sad: the closing last week of Rizzoli, that bookstore jewel on Manhattan’s 57th St. When in New York, I’d always try to stop by and be comforted by its old-world, quiet and civilized interior with classical music to match. All those foreign magazines, the rich and weighty coffee table books. I will miss it.