The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

February 16, 2017
by Dan
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Bookstores Embrace Protest

At the New York Times, Julie Bosman looks at how American bookstores have become hubs of resistance:  Political organizing is perhaps a natural extension of what bookstores have done for centuries: foster discussion, provide access to history and literature, host writers and intellectuals. “All … Continue reading

October 17, 2016
by Dan
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The Neighborhood Bookstore’s Unlikely Ally

The New York Times on the small independent bookstores making the most of social media and online sales: Undoubtedly, the bookselling industry is still digging out of a deep trough. Sales of physical books in physical stores were just $11 … Continue reading

August 18, 2016
by Dan
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Welcome to The Last Bookstore

Welcome to The Last Bookstore is a short, inspiring documentary about Josh Spencer, owner and operator of The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles:

March 22, 2016
by Dan
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Brooklyn’s Most Cluttered Bookstore

The New Yorker visits the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn as owner John Scioli begins to clean out his “cavern of books” in preparation of the store’s closing in May:

February 27, 2016
by Dan
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Why McNally Jackson Books Thrives

The New York Business Journal looks why McNally Jackson is thriving, while other the city’s other independent bookstores are disappearing: most literati agree that independent book stores are an endangered species in high-rent New York. See what’s happening right now … Continue reading

August 24, 2015
by Dan
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Amazon: Pass This Letter To My Wife and Kids

I wasn’t going to mention that New York Times article about Amazon. We already know the company treats its workers poorly (there are almost too many articles to link to at this point), it’s just that some people rather admire this kind of ruthlessness … Continue reading

August 7, 2015
by Dan
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Saying Goodbye to a Secret Bookstore

Also at The New Yorker, Brian Patrick Eha writes about the closure of Brazenhead Books, Michael Seidenberg’s secret New York bookstore: Michael Seidenberg’s one-of-a-kind bookshop, Brazenhead Books, closed last month. For seven years, it operated out of an apartment at … Continue reading

July 31, 2015
by Dan
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A Secret History of Manhattan’s Book Trade

Don’t miss Dwight Garner’s New York Times review of Martial Bliss.: The Story of the Military Bookman, Margaretta Barton Colt’s account of running an antiquarian bookstore in Manhattan that sold only military titles. If you ever worked in an independent bookstore, you’ll probably relate… Historians … Continue reading

July 14, 2015
by Dan
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The Antiquarian Bookshops of Old London

At the lovely Spitalfields Life blog, the Gentle Author reminisces about buying and selling used books in London, and shares some wondeful black and white photographs of the city’s secondhand bookshops taken in 1971 by Richard Brown: Frustrated by my … Continue reading

June 22, 2015
by Dan
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Available Only in Bookshops

To mark Independent Bookshop Week in the UK, author Helen Dunmore celebrates browsing the shelves: Readers go their own way, and this is what frustrates governments and tantalises publishers. You can drag the reader to the water with the most … Continue reading

November 25, 2014
by Dan
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How The Strand Keeps Standing

Over at New York Magazine, Christopher Bonanos (author of Instant: The Story of Polaroid amongst other things), profiles New York new and used bookstore The Strand: When you visit Amazon or AbeBooks (which is owned by Amazon) and search for … Continue reading

October 31, 2014
by Dan
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“A Literary Octopus with an Insatiable Appetite for Print”

In November’s Vanity Fair, Bruce Handy profiles George Whitman, the late owner of Shakespeare & Company — “the most famous independent bookstore in the world” — and his daughter Sylvia, the current owner of the shop: It is not true, as the store’s … Continue reading

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