Monday afternoon’s bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in downtown Boston affected everyone across the nation, but had particular resonance for the literary community in New England. The tragedy played out in front of the main branch of the Boston Public Library and forced the evacuation of Barnes & Noble at the Prudential Center, which opened late today. Fortunately, most downtown publishers were closed: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Beacon Press; and Nicholas Brealey Publishing. The library and HMH remain closed.
Yesterday Boston-area booksellers canceled events at stores on both sides of the river, including Simon Tofield, author of Simon’s Cat in Kitten Chaos, and Jef Czekaj, author of Cat Secrets, who were to have appeared at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, and Adam Grant, author of Give & Take, at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge. As Harvard wrote in an e-mail blast Monday afternoon: “Tonight’s event ... has been canceled due to the events going on in the city today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, the runners, the spectators, and the first responders. Stay safe and take care of each other.”
In an e-mail to New England independent booksellers on Tuesday, Annie Philbrick, president of the New England Independent Booksellers Association and co-owner of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn., wrote about the importance of bookstores and community. “I am finding it hard to think of much else this morning [than the senseless tragedy] and imagine many of you are feeling the same. So take the time today to give your loved ones a hug, whether near or from afar, be thankful and kind, and spend the time talking to your customers who wander into your store looking for some solace and comfort after yesterday. Our bookstores hold a place in our communities where people go to escape their lives, to talk to a real person and just sit in a comfy chair surrounded by personally curated literature. This is what we do, who we are, so let’s make an extra effort to step away from our desks and computers and provide a safe and compassionate place for people to share their anger and grief today.”