Despite huge differences in our backgrounds, Buzbee and I share something on a most personal level. We love books. We love reading. We love bookstores.
Buzbee describes his love of books and the stores that sell them as “lust.” I’m more inclined to term mine as an addiction.
After reading his memoir/history for the third time, I turn to you, my fellow book lovers to say: Go out and buy “The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop.”
It will tell you everything you thought you knew about books and the people who buy them, sell them and read them – and so much more. Trust me, there is a whole lot about the book business that will surprise you.
Buzbee will take you back to BC booksellers, through the Middle Ages, and up to Amazon and the 21st century. But before he gets to Bookselling 101, he shares his youth and his excitement when his teacher would open the Weekly Reader box and hand him the books he had ordered.
Buzbee wastes no time in telling you exactly who he is and what his book is about. His opening sentence says it all: “When I walk into a bookstore, any bookstore, first thing in the morning, I’m flooded with a sense of hushed excitement.”
What I especially appreciate about the book is that one does not have to have his degree of book lust to feel that this is your book.
It doesn’t matter if he is writing about his professional life as a bookseller (and what fun to read about his youthful persistence to work in a bookstore), or sales rep, or explaining when books were first shelved spine out, or making some sense of today’s book pricing (not necessarily a fair business practice), his enthusiasm for every subject in the book is never preachy or didactic.
The economics of selling nuts and bolts is different from selling books, and Buzbee’s insightful and realistic take on the business is a strong factor in how we, the customers, might change our understanding of independent bookstores. But make no mistake, the book is not anti-internet book buying.
Let’s get back to the “bookshops” – those offering new and/or used books. You will love and recognize the names of Bay Area bookstores and even those all over the United States and the world. He gives new meaning to the word “browse.”
I’m going to guess that many of you, while reading how he feels when browsing in a bookstore or even just walking into a bookstore, will say, “Yes – that’s exactly how I feel.”
“The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop” is a keeper, and I hope you will consider it as the best gift book for your favorite reading friends.
Visit Sunny Solomon’s website at bookinwithsunny.com for her latest recommendations or just to ‘talk books.’
Sunny Solomon holds an MA in English/Creative Writing, San Francisco State University. She is a book reviewer for “The Clayton Pioneer” and her poetry and other writing has been published in literary journals, one chapbook, In the Company of Hope and the collection, Six Poets Sixty-six Poems. She was the happy manager of Bonanza Books, Clayton, CA and Clayton Books, Clayton, CA. She continues to moderate a thriving book club that survived the closure of the store from which it began. Sunny currently lives next to the Truckee in Reno, NV.