Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Bookshop matters

This is the Albion Beatnik bookstore in Walton Street, Oxford. All independent bookshops are different (that’s the point). This one: the beats, jazz, lots of US books, good second-hand selection, tea/coffee, sofa; and, just in case you thought you’d got this one labelled, a better selection of modern writing than you’d find in any equivalent-size chainstore, including much in translation. I left some CBe books there in December, got a cheque yesterday and a covering letter telling me that the Francis Ponge book ‘flew out’, as did the translations from the Polish writers Andrzej Bursa and Stefan Grabinski. There are readers.

An idea I noticed on the website of a US publisher (Ugly Duckling Presse): partner bookstores. A number of independent bookstores, all interested in the kind of work a particular press publishes, commit to stocking all that press’s new titles (maybe some backlist too), presumably in return for a higher-than-normal trade discount. There’s something in there for everyone; it seems to me an obvious and simple idea; just a pity that right now I haven’t got the time or energy to get buzzing.

On the website page for Natural Mechanical, there’s now a link to a Poetry Trust podcast in which J. O. Morgan talks about the writing of the book and the experience of winning the Aldeburgh Prize (‘I was suddenly in this world of poets’).

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