From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Buzbee (Fliegelman's Desire) is a book lover. When he describes walking into a bookstore, feasting his eyes on the walls lined with stock, gravitating to the tables stacked with new issues and then discovering some volume so irresistibly beautiful he just has to buy it, you realize that he just doesn't love books, he's besotted. Buzbee tells the story of his lifelong obsession, from his elementary school Weekly Reader orders to his first jobs clerking in bookstores and his short career as a publisher's rep. Woven into these personal essays is a tangential discourse on the history of bookmaking and bookselling, from the ancient Romans and Chinese to the modern era. He describes the scriptoriums in Roman bookshops where the wealthy could order a book copied, the stacks of unbound quires a customer would have chosen from in a 15th-century bookshop (proto-paperbacks) and everything one would want to know about the modern business of bookselling, from ISBNs to remainders. On current hot-button issues, like predatory pricing by big-box stores and Internet vendors, he's careful where he draws his bottom line, which is "between bookstores and the absence of them." (June)
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*Starred Review* For Buzbee, a former bookseller and publishing rep, time spent in a bookstore is nothing short of sublime. "Standing in the middle of this confluence, I can't help but feel the possibility of the universe unfolding a little, once upon a time," he writes in the opening chapter of this slim, luminous volume. Buzbee manages just the right mix of history lesson and personal recollection. He reflects upon the roots of the book trade (the first great library at Alexandria, where the vast holdings were each hand copied by scribes onto papyrus scrolls); the progression of retail (from simple market stalls to book hawkers to the megastores of today); and his own hours lovingly logged at the literary chain store, Upstart Crow, where, as an eager teenager in San Jose, California, he learned the ins and outs of the business. Bookstores, Buzbee reminds us, are not just places of intellectual indulgence; they're historically significant, too. The celebrated Paris establishment, Shakespeare & Co., was the first to publish James Joyce's Ulysses, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights gave voice to Allen Ginsberg's Howl. Both anecdotal and eloquent, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is a tribute to those who crave the cozy confines of a bookshop, a place to be "alone among others" and savor a bountiful literary buffet. Allison Block
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