cover image The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

Lewis Buzbee, Author . Graywolf $17 (216p) ISBN 978-1-55597-45

Buzbee (Fliegelman's Desire ) is a book lover. When he describes walking into a bookstore, feasting his eyes on the walls lined with stock, gravitating to the tables stacked with new issues and then discovering some volume so irresistibly beautiful he just has to buy it, you realize that he just doesn't love books, he's besotted. Buzbee tells the story of his lifelong obsession, from his elementary school Weekly Reader orders to his first jobs clerking in bookstores and his short career as a publisher's rep. Woven into these personal essays is a tangential discourse on the history of bookmaking and bookselling, from the ancient Romans and Chinese to the modern era. He describes the scriptoriums in Roman bookshops where the wealthy could order a book copied, the stacks of unbound quires a customer would have chosen from in a 15th-century bookshop (proto-paperbacks) and everything one would want to know about the modern business of bookselling, from ISBNs to remainders. On current hot-button issues, like predatory pricing by big-box stores and Internet vendors, he's careful where he draws his bottom line, which is "between bookstores and the absence of them." (June)