From a devoted reader and lifelong bookseller, an eloquent and charming reflection on the singular importance of bookstores
Do we need bookstores in the twenty-first century? If so, what makes a good one? In this beautifully written book, Jeff Deutsch--the director of Chicago's Seminary Co-op Bookstores, one of the finest bookstores in the world--pays loving tribute to one of our most important and endangered civic institutions. He considers how qualities like space, time, abundance, and community find expression in a good bookstore. Along the way, he also predicts--perhaps audaciously--a future in which the bookstore not only endures, but realizes its highest aspirations.
In exploring why good bookstores matter, Deutsch draws on his lifelong experience as a bookseller, but also his upbringing as an Orthodox Jew. This spiritual and cultural heritage instilled in him a reverence for reading, not as a means to a living, but as an essential part of a meaningful life. Central among Deutsch's arguments for the necessity of bookstores is the incalculable value of browsing--since, when we are deep in the act of looking at the shelves, we move through space as though we are inside the mind itself, immersed in self-reflection.
In the age of one-click shopping, this is no ordinary defense of bookstores, but rather an urgent account of why they are essential places of discovery, refuge, and fulfillment that enrich the communities that are lucky enough to have them.
[Deutsch] ponders the ingredients that make a bookstore worth visiting....a pleasant bibliophilic excursion.-- "Kirkus Reviews"
Deutsch, director of the Seminary Co-op Bookstores in Chicago, reflects on the importance of bookselling in his moving debut. . . . A resonant elegy to a changing business, this will hit the spot for literature lovers.-- "Publishers Weekly"
One of Lit Hub's Most Anticipated Books of the Year
An eloquent and inspiring paean to the community bookstore. . . . A deeply read and engaging guide. . . . Give this a prime spot on that Front Table.-- "Booklist, starred review"
An eloquent argument for making the experience of buying a book more meaningful than acquiring a toaster. . . . In a culture that fosters rampant aliteracy and homes devoid of any books, Deutsch is extolling not just good bookstores but also the vanishing world of thoughtful lives. His effort deserves praise. ---Steven G. Kellman, Forward