Monday, March 2, 2020
The Booksellers (2019) opens Friday
Watching The Booksellers was a physical experience for me. Having been in some of the stores and having met several of the people profiled over the years I found myself in a arm fuzzy place. I was home among my people. I know that may sound weird, but before I loved film I was a book addict-I mean I have storage lockers full of books- which is why I don’t own a house or have savings. I had a mother and an aunt who instilled a love of books into me since they revealed the secret that books can and will take you places without ever having to leave home. (Why travel when all I need is a book?). My desire to collect or rather appreciate old and rare books came with my love of history. These are the things that changed the world and made people long ago dream.
The film itself is a history of the used and antiquarian book “industry” specifically in and around New York. We get a history of the shops that once filled NYC, the stories of those that still survive (Argosy and Strand among others) . we meet the people buying and selling and listen to them as they talk about their lives and the future of the industry and of books. It’s a trip into a small little world full of wondrous things (most of the shops sell other magical items other than books as well) that will make you want to run out and visit one of the shops. If I was kid it would have made me want to run out and go rummaging through the various stores…oh hell…forget being a kid I just want to get up and run out and go to Argosy and see what they have.
This is a glorious film. It is like walking into stacks of an old bookstore with the best bookseller at the desk. It is a celebration of the stores, the staff and the rectangular objects that allow us to travel the world without ever getting out of our seat.
I am not sure how you are going to react to the film, but if you are one of us luddites who want much prefer a page to a screen then this movie is for you.