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Books Businesses

New York's Last Remaining Independent Bookshops (theguardian.com) 71

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via The Guardian, written by Hermione Hoby: Michael Seidenberg, pictured kingly in his throne of a wicker chair, feet spread, pipe in mouth, is one of around 50 New York indie booksellers featured in a series of portraits by Philippe Ungar and Franck Bohbot, a pair of bibliophilic Frenchmen who met and befriended each other in Brooklyn. The two, writer and photographer respectively, have taken great pleasure in traveling across the city, to neighborhoods in every borough, to meet and photograph booksellers in their habitats. Despite their diversity, the way their distinct personalities and passions are reflected and amplified in their shops, they are all, says Ungar, "looking for the same thing -- a generous vision of sharing culture". Ungar mentions Corey Farach, owner of the scruffy, adored and longstanding feminist bookshop Bluestockings. Farach, as Ungar recounts with admiration, encourages those people who can't afford to buy a $40 book to take a seat, make themselves comfortable, and just read it in the shop. "That is to me," says Ungar, "the spirit of the indie booksellers." Because, as he sees it, "a bookstore is much more than a bookstore, it's much more than selling books. It's a public shelter. Whoever you are, you don't have to buy anything, they won't ask you for your ID. You're free -- you can stay for hours and browse. There's a generosity, an optimism. And that's what we wanted to enhance." "[I]ndie bookshops are outposts of idealism," writes Hoby. "And if they seem like the most romantic places in the city, it might be down to this -- to the way their owners and customers might all be engaged in the same project, a kind of sanctuary building in the unsheltered world."

She goes on to mention Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, "a small space crammed with vintage titles," as well several closed bookshops "which have fallen to astronomically rising rents." "Three Lives & Company [...] narrowly escaped closure in 2016 after an upswell of neighborhood support," writes Hoby. The group that owns the building decided to "provide it with stability," given how well-loved it is in the West Village.

New York's Last Remaining Independent Bookshops

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  • the remake, not the original. Sorry, it was the first thing that popped into my head.

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Sunday June 03, 2018 @01:24PM (#56720692) Homepage Journal

    If people want to fund nonprofit nerd shelters, cool, do that. Sell some books for additional fundraising too if that helps.

    There's no need to bemoan the loss of bookshops for the small group of people who valued bookshops over more books if the goal wasn't ever to be a bookshop; if that was the excuse rather than the purpose.

    • by whitroth ( 9367 )

      Can you even explain why you ever visit slashdot, aka "news for nerds"?

      Your kind isn't wanted or needed here. Go away - you're mostly illiterate, anyway, since you clearly don't understand logic.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've had the pleasant experience of coming across "green activists" who are gung-ho about "saving the environment." That's a great thing, but when these same people then talk about how they're upset that digital books are ruining America and that people need to go back to reading print...I don't get it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sorry to be so blunt but that's probably because you haven't read many books yet. In case you haven't gotten the memo, books are the cornerstone of modern society, not 5 min Youtube videos.

      On a side note, do you have any actual statistics that shows that books are - in total, including the whole live-cycle - more dangerous and destructive to the environment than ebook readers+phones+PCs that are trashed after 3-5 years? Books last hundreds of years so I kind of doubt that...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mschuyler ( 197441 )

        Well, no, books rarely last hundreds of years. The acid in the paper makes them too brittle to read after a few dozen years and by that time no one wants to read them anyway. Most books these days are some form of paperback, which are not meant to last. On a good day they wind up pulped and recycled, and on a bad day just wind up in a landfill. I don't know of a valid study comparing books to bytes as far as reading is concerned, but hauling that paper across the country in diesel trucks can't be good, nor

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Previous AC here. My father was a professor at a school for librarians and my family has about 30,000 books - I myself have far less, maybe 1000. Many of my parent's books are hundreds of years old. So far for my own anecdotal background.

          Now here is my take on it. Even cheap paperbacks last longer than digital media. Books on acid-free paper last hundreds of years or longer. Normal digital media last 5-30 years, depending on the type. (Tapes last longest, I guess, but who uses them?)

          As for the ecological li

          • affordable readers are still far too uncomfortable and small.

            I beg to differ. I read an awful lot, and I say that modern e-readers have come a long way, and are now as comfortable to read as printed books, under pretty much any circumstances, with a few nice extras like built-in backlights and the ability to carry thousands of books (plus the ability to download more) in a package weighing less than a single paperback. But I do not "work with texts", I read fiction, start to finish in a linear fashion. Maybe that's the difference. Because the way e-readers handle

          • As for the ecological life cycle accounting, I'd say that overall the infrastructure to handle ebook readers and all the electronics associated with them including batteries and all the energy in producing all the infrastructure (servers, electronics, rare earths, global shipping, etc.) have a far worse ecological life cycle assessment than printed paper.

            I would disagree. The servers, electronics, rare earths, etc would all exist absent e-books. As to the e-book itself, sure it may only last 5 years or so but in that five years I will read at least 100 books. So, is my single nook more or less environmentally friendly than at least 100 paper books?

          • Even cheap paperbacks last longer than digital media.

            Doesnt matter because you can copy digital content from one medium to another with as close to zero cost imaginable. You can easily make backups on multiple forms of media and easily have those backups self propagate to new media when available thanks to the internet. Not just backups either but perfect identical backups. Not true with paper. Paper has it's charms to be sure but if we're comparing the potential for longevity the only way paper will beat digital is the event of an apocalyptic EMP. Paper

        • by Grunschev ( 517745 ) <slashdot.grunschev@com> on Sunday June 03, 2018 @06:58PM (#56721982)

          With no special care or handling, books will easily last a century or three. My oldest book was published in 1848 and it's in pretty good shape. I own three other books that are more than 100 years old. Roughly a third of my ~800 books are older than your few dozen years (i.e. published prior to 1982). They're all perfectly readable and the vast majority are in fine or very fine condition.

          If you're really a librarian, you'd know how ridiculous your claims are. Most books are withdrawn from circulation because they're not being checked out, not because they're unreadable. I don't find century old books in the collections of my county library, but I can easily find them in the main branch of the Denver Library or Norlin Library on campus at C.U.

          As a counterpoint to your preference for digital, I have a copy of the first software I developed back in the early 1980's. It's construction accounting software. I printed out the source code and documentation and also have copies on 5.25" floppy disk. I can still read the hard copy, but the digital copy is unreadable for me. You may have some old hardware available to you, but I'm not a collector. I'd have had to convert the format of that stuff several times over the years to keep a readable digital copy. I don't think I've had a machine with a 5.25" floppy drive in more than 20 years.

          Are you going to format shift your eBooks or just let them fade away? Sure, somebody will keep doing it, but what makes you think they'll make it available to you? Think of how much music and how many movies are already unavailable because they're not commercially viable.

          Not only that, but do you realize how few books are actually available as eBooks? Sure, most titles being published today are, but I seldom read new books. Had this conversation on a plane, once. Guy sitting next to me said I should get a Kindle. I had him search for the book I had in my hands. Not available. I gave him the titles of the last half dozen I'd read, only one was available. But, you're a librarian. You already know everything I've said.

          • Not only that, but do you realize how few books are actually available as eBooks? Sure, most titles being published today are, but I seldom read new books. Had this conversation on a plane, once.

            What year was that? It couldn't have been too long ago since he was searching for the books while on a plane. But I found a random article from 2013 wherein the writer bemoans as you do and lists 18 books that are not available as an ebook. https://bookriot.com/2013/03/1... [bookriot.com]
            Every single one of those is now available, most for less than $10.

            This was funny ...

            Are you going to format shift your eBooks or just let them fade away? Sure, somebody will keep doing it, but what makes you think they'll make it available to you?

            Dude! It's on the internet.

          • With no special care or handling, books will easily last a century or three.

            Hogwash. You are suffering from survivorship bias [wikipedia.org]. The vast majority of books experience no special care or handling and demonstrably do not last anywhere close to that long.

            As a counterpoint to your preference for digital, I have a copy of the first software I developed back in the early 1980's. It's construction accounting software. I printed out the source code and documentation and also have copies on 5.25" floppy disk. I can still read the hard copy, but the digital copy is unreadable for me. You may have some old hardware available to you, but I'm not a collector. I'd have had to convert the format of that stuff several times over the years to keep a readable digital copy. I don't think I've had a machine with a 5.25" floppy drive in more than 20 years.

            Again survivorship bias. Much data from that era has been transferred to other media. It's trivial to search on the internet to find software even older than yours and to copy it trivially. I can easily find software that perfectly replicates computers I used in the early 1980s. Yes some was lost but that's no different from paper

            • Despite a fancy phrase (survivorship bias) everything you said is still bullshit hand-waving and everything he said still appears true & valid. You can't 'explain away' or handwave the FACT that books will outlast all the format-shifting. The fact that some things can be emulated doesn't mean they will be or that it will be done well. It also utterly fails to address the role of DRM. Nah, anyway, you're just wrong and trying to pimp some weak points in the face of a superior line of reasoning. Oh and ju
              • Despite a fancy phrase (survivorship bias) everything you said is still bullshit hand-waving...

                A "fancy phrase" that you apparently are incapable of understanding. If a "fancy phrase" scares you then maybe go somewhere with a dumber crowd more your speed.

                You can't 'explain away' or handwave the FACT that books will outlast all the format-shifting.

                SOME books might. MOST books will not. I suggest you study the difference. Using the few books to survive hundreds of years as evidence that books as a whole are profoundly durable is a dumb argument. It takes fairly heroic efforts or incredible luck to keep paper in readable condition for hundreds of years. Most of it decomposes long before th

                • Hehe, "Some will be lost in the sands of time." Let's see.... how many ebook readers customers primarily read non-DRM'd content from places like Project Gutenberg. Oh yeah, basically none as all the e-book providers DRM-by-default. Thus, you are full of shit. Personally, I've already lost more ebooks to DRM than any other reason. When Sony ditched their e-readers they didn't port their DRM scheme to Kobo. That's just one of dozens of examples. The books I have form the 1800's are ones that folks wanted to s
                  • EPUB does not use DRM. DRM problems are problems related to over extension of copyright. EPUB format does not need to be format shifted because there is absolutely no reason that EPUB can't be read on multiple platforms. I read EPUB on my PC tablet and phone using different operating systems. From Project Gutenberg. Using Barnes & Noble's Nook software, which reads non-DRM entangled texts just fine.

                    Failure to transfer printed work to electronic copy is the reason many works will become unavailable.

                    Prin

                    • Cool man, you are one of the few "good ones" then. I also read books from Project Gutenberg. Old or new, almost all book readers support epub, too. So, I agree that it's a fantastic format. However, in general, most folks who use e-readers are buying books from the built-in store and nearly all of those are DRM'd and they are rarely epub format. So, not to refute anything you've said, Terry, but my challenge to the "books are shit" troll fucker before you was "how are you going to not-lose your DRM'd books
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Well, no, books rarely last hundreds of years. The acid in the paper makes them too brittle to read after a few dozen years and by that time no one wants to read them anyway.

          That has not been true for all but the most trashy pulp books for over 50 years. Time moves on. Acidic wash pulp isn't cheaper to make anymore and does not sell as well. Even when it was true that acidic paper would destroy itself, that time period hardly lasted a century. Even within that time, books that are taken care of last. I have several that are around 130 years old showing the painful signs of brittleness and foxing, yet still in reasonable condition.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by mschuyler ( 197441 )

          I stand by my original statement. Please don't pretend to tell me my business. I've been a librarian for 44 years. How many of you have books over 100 years old? Oh, you have one, or two? Hey, that's great! Where are the others? In a landfill. So mildewed that they are unusable because you stored them in a garage or basement. Pulped. Gone. Only the finest books are published on acid-free paper. And you know what? They won't last either, not because they can't last, but because they will be mistreated, disca

  • I love that place! I used to stop by whenever my old band was in NYC. My copy of Snow Crash came from there. Last time I was there I went to another cool bookstore called Book Thug Nation that had a massive amount of used sci-fi at surprisingly reasonable prices. It really saved my ass because I forgot to bring any books on that tour.
  • Visit the Library (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scrib ( 1277042 ) on Sunday June 03, 2018 @01:53PM (#56720800)

    Looking for a cool, community-accessible place where anyone can walk in, pull a book of the shelf, and start reading without being pressured?
    Try the library!
    If, like the article, you think "a bookstore is much more than a bookstore, it's much more than selling books. It's a public shelter. Whoever you are, you don't have to buy anything, they won't ask you for your ID. You're free -- you can stay for hours and browse. There's a generosity, an optimism." What you are looking for is a library. Many will even let you check out books on exchange with other library systems, not just other branches.

    • Here in Europe there is an https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_public_access_catalog [slashdot.org] that will let you order a book from say, a Madrid university library while perusing the Vienna Technical University's library. Hundreds and hundreds of libraries participating.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        > Here in Europe

        Fueled by software written by a company in the US in the 70s.

        ILL has been a common thing in academic institutions since before you were born.

    • I walked into a library a couple years back and it had no fucking books. Fine... but the surreal shithole should either be replaced by a webportal or at least serve beverages and call it a "Public Internet Cafe." But "library??" Crazy, ignorant fucks.
      • I walked into a library a couple years back and it had no fucking books. Fine... but the surreal shithole should either be replaced by a webportal or at least serve beverages and call it a "Public Internet Cafe." But "library??" Crazy, ignorant fucks.

        I got a good chuckle how you proudly proclaim your ignorance of what libraries [wikipedia.org] are and what they do. As if they should somehow be forced to conform to your preconceived and uninformed idea that they are merely repositories of paper books.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Well, that would be no further than my recliner chair, with custom over bed table for the monitor and keyboard and https://www.gutenberg.org/ [gutenberg.org]. Largely my book reading days are over, and that is from over the top avid reader. The internet provides me with more reading than possible, split with interactions and moving or still images and of course even books.

      Although it would make sense for public libraries to be maintained for tech works et al just in case things fuck up. For me though, the internet is my i

      • If you were such an avid reader how come you don't know the difference between "et al" and "et cetera"?

  • by AndyKron ( 937105 ) on Sunday June 03, 2018 @02:43PM (#56720974)
    If I'm ever homeless I'll pee at the indie bookstore.
    • by ve3oat ( 884827 )
      Barbarian! One might hope that you catch some incurable human cross-over book-mould disease from the experience.
  • Please tell me that I can still pick up stuff for the coven at Ray's Occult Bookstore! If he shuts the doors, I just don't know what I would do.
  • East Lyme Connecticut has a huge used book store that takes up several buildings. My husband likes to take my son there. They have used kids books for $1.00 and paperbacks for $1.00. Its great because they even have areas in each of the bookstores with toys for the little kids to play with at the store.

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