(Prime — yes, Amazon picked this one up, despite the fact that they forced so many physical bookstores out of business) Whenever my wife and I travel, we always make it a point to visit the local bookstores and find a book (or two or three) to bring home as a worthwhile memento to read later, and documentary THE BOOKSELLERS instigated flashbacks of our trip to NYC in 2016, as we stopped by all of the classic NYC bookstores. Sure, we didn’t have the money to buy anything too rare or fancy, but we did pick up a few token prints and a handful of cheap genre books with snazzy covers.
THE BOOKSELLERS is a NYC-centric deep dive into the folks who collect and sell rare and/or interesting books, or just consider themselves ‘collectors of books’. The people they interview are a wide tangle of distinct personas, ages, and genders, which is rather refreshing as, yes, it’s still unrightfully considered a ‘male’ business.
I constantly harp about the need for physical media because it’s something that’s -important- and it’ll only become more important in the future as fewer works are denied proper physical releases. We’ll see more and more important works wither off because of licensing issues, because they’re too niche, deemed too unimportant. This doc definitely details the fetishization of physical media, but it also makes the case for the importance of it.
Ultimately, this is a documentary about people who care about the -printed word- and ensuring that these words live on. It’s not the most engrossing documentary but, if you’re a book nerd, it’ll open your eyes towards certain facets of of the industry. And, if you’re familiar with the booksellers, it’s a welcome COVID escapist film.
One item of note: Julia Wertz has a terrific collection of NYC book store renditions in her amazing illustrated history of New York City: TENEMENTS, TOWERS & TRASH. It’s a hefty tome, and I don’t know how relevant it is in a post-COVID world, but it’s well-worth your time.
“The only thing I regret are the books I’ve never bought.”