Tag: Bookstore Tourism

R.I.P. George Whitman, Shakespeare & Company Owner

It’s hard to imagine Paris without Shakespeare & Company, and George Whitman, who died yesterday at the age of 98, owned the famed Left Bank bookstore for years.

He took its name from the original shop owned by Sylvia Beach.

“For decades,” the New York Times notes, “Mr. Whitman provided food and makeshift beds to young aspiring novelists or writing nomads, often letting them spend a night, a week, or even months living among the crowded shelves and alcoves.”

Travel writer Erin Byrne profiled Whitman several years ago, noting that he had “fashioned a life for himself that brings together the two things he loves most in all the world, books and people. It is this combination that makes him tick. Old age without loneliness is unusual; George always has a house full of friends. Fragility without weakness is seldom seen; this man is thin and frail, but his presence is noble.”

His daughter, Sylvia, discusses her father and the store’s history in this terrific video:

R.I.P. Notting Hill’s Travel Bookshop

Despite a last-minute campaign by editors and even celebrities, London’s Travel Bookshop has closed.

USA Today’s Laura Bly received an email from the founder yesterday: “The shop is currently closed—but I am going to open it and be there myself this Saturday 10th - for a final day’s sale. Then sadly, that’s it for the Travel Bookshop.”

The store was featured in the 1999 Hugh Grant movie “Notting Hill.” As we noted recently, Alec Baldwin, who appeared in the film, was among those Tweeting his support for efforts to find a buyer.

Alec Baldwin: ‘Save the Travel Book Shop!!!’

Actor Alec Baldwin is among those lending his support—or Tweets, at least—to a campaign to save the Travel Bookshop, the three-decades-old British bookstore made famous in the 1999 film “Notting Hill.”

The film starred Hugh Grant, who played the owner of the shop specializing in travel writing. Julia Roberts also starred, and Baldwin made an appearance.

The bookstore’s owner put the shop up for sale in May. Poet and journalist Olivia Cole launched a campaign last week to find a buyer, but some fear it’s too late. It could close in early September.

The news prompted Michael Jacobs to reflect on the state of travel writing in The Observer:

Some people might conclude that the Travel Bookshop is doomed because travel writing itself is doomed. Such pessimists tend to point to the internet as the final factor in the genre’s potential extinction. The internet has certainly made redundant a Victorian type of travel book bringing together a lot of factual and statistical information about a country. It is also likely to do away soon with the need for guide books and the travel pages of newspapers (at least in their present form).

But, despite the rise of the internet and all the recent negative attitudes towards travel writing, to predict the death of the genre seems to me as nearsighted as believing that this country’s pioneering travel bookshop has come to the end of its useful life.

Two Cheers for Gloom

Contemplating and celebrating the world of travel

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Is it a ‘Golden Age’ for British Indie Bookstores?

Apparently, more than 60 new stores have opened in the U.K. in the past 15 months. That’s a nice counterweight to all the closures we’ve been covering. (Via The Book Bench)

Morning Links: 50 Great Travel Tweeters, Shark Attacks and More

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Your Friendly Neighborhood Airport Bookstore?

Your Friendly Neighborhood Airport Bookstore? Photo by gahdjun via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by gahdjun via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I spent a good portion of my Friday night at Newark International this weekend, waiting on a friend’s delayed flight from Canada. As a result, I had plenty of time to conduct an in-depth study of the titles on offer at the airport’s Relay store.

The project started out innocently enough. I’ve never paid much attention to airport bookstores—long layovers generally find me sound asleep on the floor at a quiet gate, or roaming the halls in search of an unsecured wireless signal. But this time I decided to browse the magazine selection, and then (while I struggled to reconcile my love for both “Cosmopolitan” and “The Atlantic”) a section heading in the books section caught my eye: Travel and Pictorial. The heading seemed odd, because—I could see from 10 feet away—half the books in the section had been written by Candace Bushnell. Had I somehow missed Bushnell’s transition to narrative travelogue author? Curious, I moved closer. And found that the Travel and Pictorial section was filled top to bottom with Manhattan-based chick lit. Multiple copies of “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Confessions of a Shopaholic” and “Shopaholic Takes Manhattan,” and no less than four Bushnell titles (“Sex and the City” chief among them, of course) covered the shelves in a blur of chirpy, bright, pink-heavy covers.

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R.I.P. Oscar Wilde Bookshop

The Greenwich Village landmark will close on March 29, after 42 years in business. The Oscar Wilde Bookshop is widely believed to be America’s oldest gay and lesbian bookstore; its first owner, Craig Rodwell, was also one of the founders of New York City’s Pride Parade. A thoughtful 2005 New York Times essay about the bookshop and its history remains available online.

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Seattle’s Rise to Literary Prominence

Or at least book-selling prominence. Seattle is the base of Amazon.com, Starbucks and Costco, the New York Times observes, “three companies that increasingly influence what America reads.”

R.I.P. Bookstore Tourism?

Larry Portzline has shut down Bookstore Tourism indefinitely. “Unfortunately, despite a great deal of excitement and interest from supporters, the necessary funding was scarce,” he writes on his blog. “So, after five years of working on Bookstore Tourism without making a penny (and, in fact, virtually driving myself into bankruptcy), I had to make a very tough decision and pull the plug on the entire project.” He adds: “It may be permanent. I’m simply not sure.”

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R.I.P. Dutton’s Books

Sadly, Los Angeles’ beloved literary bookstore, located in Brentwood, plans to close April 30.

Two More Bookstores Beloved by Travelers to Close

Candida’s World of Books, Washington D.C.‘s only travel bookstore, opened to the public for the last time this past weekend, and the Reading Room, the only literary bookstore on the Las Vegas Strip, announced it will be closing as soon as March.

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Historic Canadian Bookstore to Close

Independent bookstore closures are hardly a new phenomenon, but this one really stings. As Canada’s oldest bookstore, The Book Room has kept readers in Nova Scotia supplied with bound volumes for 169 years—since 1839. But as a result of declining sales, the Halifax store is selling down its inventory in preparation for a March closure. Said the store’s president Tuesday, “The staff and I are both really sad about having to do this.”

Nine Independent Bookstores Worth a Trip

The AP offers up a list with all the usual U.S. suspects: City Lights, Books & Books, Politics and Prose, etc.

R.I.P. California Map & Travel, Cody’s Books

Today, we pay our respects to two great California bookstores we’re losing or already have lost. California Map & Travel Center, the fine Santa Monica travel bookstore whose L.A. roots stretched back to 1949—an eternity in L.A.—recently closed shop. The small Pico Boulevard store was crammed with guidebooks, narratives and globes, and it sometimes hosted readings. I once saw travel editor and writer Thomas Swick read there on a book tour, to an enthusiastic audience. The store was profiled here in better days. The other big loss, of course, is Cody’s Books, an institution on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. The store, which stocked all kinds of books, will close July 11. Two other Bay area Cody’s locations will continue to operate, but it is the Telegraph Avenue store, a stone’s throw from the UC Berkeley campus, that is so beloved among book-lovers.

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Iowa Embraces Bookstore Tourism

We’re believers in bookstore tourism, so our hats are off to Iowa for becoming the first state to officially promote it. The Travel Iowa Web site now lists more than two dozen local independent bookstores and encourages visitors to the Hawkeye State to drop in to get a taste of local communities. And, of course, to buy books. Bookstore tourism founder Larry Portzline, who I interviewed for World Hum last year, applauded Iowa’s efforts. “I hope other state and regional tourism offices follow suit and start promoting their indie bookstores as travel destinations,” he writes on his bookstore tourism blog. “It’s a great way to spread the word.”

Bookstore Tourism Podcast

Larry Portzline recently appeared on WHP-AM’s Let’s Talk Travel program in Pennsylvania, and he’s included several segments of his conversation with host Sandy Fenton on his most recent podcast. Portzline is the founder of bookstore tourism. He spoke with World Hum about it in October.

Larry Portzline: Inside “Bookstore Tourism”

Busloads of book lovers are going on literary safari to independent bookstores. Michael Yessis talks to the man behind the growing movement.

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Portzline Debuts “Bookstore Tourism” Podcast

It’s newsy, but it’s the kind of news we like. Larry Portzline, who created Bookstore Tourism and wrote a book about it, discusses how to kickstart your own local bookstore tour and spreads the word about an upcoming trip planned by the Southern California Booksellers Association. Portzline also has a Bookstore Tourism blog.