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Posts Tagged ‘bookseller’

Photo: Addis Fortune
A passerby looks at what’s on sale at a sidewalk bookshop.

A love of reading appears to be growing in Ethiopia. According to Mahlet Workayehu at Addis Fortune and All Africa, “It is a common sight to have people carrying around books on the roads and selling them to people sitting in cars or people walking on the streets. …

” ‘Now people hanging out at bars and khat stores are buying books from us,’ says Addis, a book vendor.

“The cost of books in Addis, with the average price of a fiction novel book by a local author coming in around 80 Br [about $3.25], has increased in the past two years. …

“The people credited for expanding the readership of books in Addis are the mobile vendors. They walk around with books in their hands stacked all the way up to their neck, approaching any and everyone to buy a book of them. There are close to 1000 mobile vendors roaming the streets of Addis.

“Addis is a mobile vendor; he has been selling books for five years. Although he is not literate, Addis knows all the titles of the books he carries, whether it be in Amharic or English.” More here.

That bookseller’s lack of literacy really struck me. I work as a volunteer with adult refugees, some of whom never had any schooling and are eager to learn. Book vendor Addis is so near and yet so far from the joy of books.

(For fun, read Roger Duvoisin’s storybook Petunia, about the goose who thought she was wise because she carried around a book. I don’t accuse Ethiopian book vendors of being like Petunia, but I do wish someone could help them learn to read. Of all people, I imagine, they would most enjoy being literate.)

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You’ve heard of working vacations to learn about farm life and milking cows or to help Earthwatch study sea lions. A new and unusual vacation offering involves running a bookshop.

‘Literature lovers often dream about owning a bookshop ,” writes Jess Denham at The Independent, “and now, the opportunity is there if you’re willing to fork out £150 for the privilege.

“The Open Book shop in Scotland’s ‘national book town’ of Wigtown has been listed on room-letting website AirBnB offering wordy holidaymakers the chance to work a 40-hour week selling books and customising the store with their ‘own stamp.’ ”

“Local book experts will be on hand to train guests in the seaside town …

“Some ten guests have already hired the bookshop and apartment above, including an elderly couple fulfilling a lifelong ambition, two members of a band that writes and performs songs about books, a librarian from Oregon and a Dutch civil servant. … Guests are encouraged to blog about their experience while carrying out ‘all the normal duties of a bookseller’ …

“Independent authors are invited to sell their own books in the store and set up their own promotional displays.”

More here.

Photo: The Open Book
The Open Book store in Wigtown, Scotland, is opening its doors to holidaymakers.

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Julie Turkewitz writes at the NY Times about a mountain library planned by two not-exactly-wealthy book lovers with big ideas.

“The project is striking in its ambition: a sprawling research institution situated on a ranch at 10,000 feet above sea level, outfitted with 32,000 volumes, many of them about the Rocky Mountain region, plus artists’ studios, dormitories and a dining hall — a place for academics, birders, hikers and others to study and savor the West.

“It is the sort of endeavor undertaken by a deep-pocketed politician or chief executive, perhaps a Bloomberg or a Buffett. But the project, called the Rocky Mountain Land Library, has instead two booksellers as its founders.

“For more than 20 years, Jeff Lee, 60, and Ann Martin, 53, have worked at a Denver bookshop, the Tattered Cover, squirreling away their paychecks in the pursuit of a single dream: a rural, live-in library where visitors will be able to connect with two increasingly endangered elements — the printed word and untamed nature. …

“They have poured an estimated $250,000 into their collection of 32,000 books, centering the collection on Western land, history, industry, writers and peoples. There are tales by Norman Maclean; wildlife sketches by William D. Berry; and books on beekeeping, dragonflies, cowboys and the Navajo. …

“Mr. Lee and Ms. Martin have a grant from the South Park National Heritage Area and this summer will finally begin renovations, repairing two leaky roofs. Construction will be limited, however, as they have gathered less than $120,000 in outside funds. An estimated $5 million is needed to build out their dream.” More here.

Photo: Michael Ciaglo for The New York Times

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The independent bookstore where I live is assuming the whole town knows that the publisher Hachette is fighting with Amazon. I say that because it has devoted a whole window to Hachette books, with a statement about carrying any book you want but no statement about the Amazon fight.

Amazon may finally have gone too far. People are fighting back against its absolute power. Asakiyume, for example, is practically a one-woman campaign to get its warehouse staff better working conditions.

And there are other initiatives. Jennifer Rankin writes at the Guardian, “Independent booksellers are being sent reinforcements in the battle against Amazon …

“My Independent Bookshop, a social network for book lovers from Penguin Random House, [is] an online space where anyone can review their favourite books and show off their good taste on virtual shelves.

“Crucially, readers can also buy books from the site, with a small proportion of takings going to support scores of local independent book stores. …

“A reader’s nominated home store – which doesn’t have to be geographically close – will get 5% of the revenues from every physical book they buy and 8% on an ebook. The site is a tie-up with the e-commerce website Hive, which has been offering a similar service to local shops since 2011.”

Read more at the Guardian, here. Check out the lively comments there, too.

Photo: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
The new Penguin Random House may give independent booksellers a boost in online sales. 

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