Wednesday News: Independent bookstores, the future of publishing, Nazi book theft, and “Capturing Love” in photos
Independent bookstores keeping afloat despite tough retail market – So independent bookstores appear to be on the rise again, almost a decade after the industry “crashed,” with the number of store openings still growing. And despite Amazon’s foray into brick and mortar stores, their impact may not be as overwhelming as some fear.
After seven straight years of growth, core membership in the independent sellers’ trade group [American Booksellers Association] has dropped slightly since May 2016, from 1,775 to 1,757. At the same time, the number of actual locations rose from 2,311 to 2,321, reflecting a trend of owners opening additional stores.
Amazon just opened its first bookstore in Manhattan and seventh overall. One outlet is within two miles of Third Place Books in Amazon’s hometown Seattle, where Third Place managing partner Robert Sindelar says sales initially dropped after the Amazon store opened in November 2015, but had bounced back by the end of last year. – Toronto Star
Publishing’s Bright Future (Really!) – Okay, so I have to admit my amusement at these stories about how great!great!great! publishing is, and is going to be, especially after all the predictions that traditional publishing is dead!dying!dead! Could it just be that traditional publishing, like indie publishing, will evolve and adapt, and that industries tend to cycle, as do tastes and trends?
Here’s good news for publishing: printed objects offer time away from the news cycle, a hot commodity these days. Compared to pricey floats in a sensory deprivation tank or self-led meditation sessions where you usually end up making grocery lists rather than taking deep breaths, books offer an affordable and easy escape from reality, including the unsavory one unfolding on our touchscreens.
That’s not to say that digital publishing won’t continue to prosper—people aren’t ready to say sayonara to their screens—but rather that it’s going to become a status symbol of mindfulness to be seen reading a book.
If humanity is the remedy for inhumanity, community-building and in-person contact will be touchstones in the years ahead. Independent bookstores have long been the oasis of communities, and today they’re poised to thrive. Just as dedicated foodies are willing to cycle across town for an artisanal jar of mayonnaise, so too will many people opt to buy a special book in an actual book shop, where actual people work. – Publishers Weekly
The Neglected War Crime of the Nazi Book Thieves – Very interesting interview with Anders Rydell, whose new book, The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe’s Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance, discusses the extent of Nazi library looting, and the fact that it was much more extensive than Nazi art looting (which has received much more attention in the general media, despite the knowledge of historians and researchers). For those of us in the U.S., Rydell’s work is particularly timely, especially his discussion of the ideological and political damage that can be enacted by basically eliminating books. Now, with so much online, it is more difficult to wipe out knowledge (and facts), but that assumes people are actually fact-checking (or have access to a fact-checking apparatus):
In the midst of war, the Nazis diverted considerable resources to transporting millions of books from every corner of occupied Europe. Which were the driving forces strong enough to justify this?
Ideology – the same forces that made the Nazis organize the mass deportations and murder of millions of innocent people who constituted no military threat. The looting of books and archives was part of the ideological war the Nazis waged against all their enemies – but mainly the Jews.
The looting had mainly two purposes. On one hand, to “unarm” their enemies by taking the weapons of thought – books, libraries, archives. In Poland, the Nazis even looted books from schools – in a Nazi-dominated East, Polish children didn’t have any need for higher education as, in the future, they would be reduced to slaves under the master race.
The second goal was even more devious. By looting the libraries and archives of their enemies, the Nazis tried to take control over the memory and history of the victims. This was most important regarding the Jews. Alfred Rosenberg, who founded the Institute for the Study of the Jewish Question, was afraid that, even if the Nazis won the war, future generations would judge them for their crimes. Therefore, it was important to control the memory of the Jews, not as a way to eradicate the Jews from written memory – but to establish the Jews as an incarnation of evil for all future generations. – Versopolis
Capturing Love, It’s the Brooklyn Way – Speaking of a nice break from the news cycle, this is a great collection of photos:
“One of the things that I noticed quickly,” the photographer Andre Wagner said of moving to Bushwick, Brooklyn, from Omaha in 2012, is “how you can see the affection of people out in public because so many things happen on the streets.” Mr. Wagner drew upon his background in social work when he started taking photos. “Living in Brooklyn, I see a lot of that family interaction, which I’m really interested in capturing.” . . .
Mr. Wagner is also interested in the way different people come together on New York City subways and buses. “Here in New York, public transportation is such a big way of how people move around the city and all different kinds of people share the space, whether it is inside the subway or in a bus,” he said. “So I’m always interested in trying to figure out how to show the diversity or just the range of how we have to all share this space in transition.” Of his method, he said: “I almost never ask for permission to make photographs. The process is just an impulse. I make the photos and smile if the subject looks at me.” – New York Times