Bookshops are a dying breed, one of the saddest casualties of the tech revolution. Their rarity makes coming across one that much sweeter, a feeling evoked in a new collection of photos by Horst A. Friedrichs. It’s a spellbinding spotlight on the world’s literature hubs, from New York City’s Strand, where $1 picks are a must, to Paris’s Shakespeare and Company, the go-to for Hemingway and Joyce, with the most charming of stops along the way: Maastricht’s sweeping Boekhandel Dominicanen, for one, and Pennsylvania’s rare-book haven, Baldwin’s Book Barn, in West Chester.
Needless to say, these shops are the anti-Amazon. You go online to find something specific; you go to an independent bookstore to get lost, to discover something you didn’t know you wanted. Or just to get a gift that’s a little more thoughtful than a book straight off the printer, covered in Bubble Wrap and sealed in Bezos-blue tape.
There was a time after the 2008 crisis when book sales plummeted; people just weren’t reading, and publishers panicked. Rumors swirled: Here was the end of books. But the steep fall plateaued, and, especially today, with a pandemic fueling reading and cutting publishers’ lavish expenses to zero, there’s fresh hope for books. This volume is an ode to their dedicated stewards, the brick-and-mortar booksellers who keep the shelves stocked and the doors open. —Julia Vitale