Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Happy (Belated) Birthday

The Strand Bookstore in New York City celebrated 80 years of operation on 2 June, Gothamist reports (linking to a short piece in New York magazine). Fred Bass, one of the owners, was asked how things have changed in 80 years, and if people are "as literary as they once were." I like his response:

"I think they are more so. We’re a very educated country. When TV came in we thought the book business would die. That wasn’t so; the things that appeared on TV started to stimulate the book business. Look at the Ken Burns series on the Civil War - suddenly there was a boom in the book business every time something appeared on TV. Now we’re being challenged with the computer and Internet. But the computer is an incredible help to us. Twenty or so percent of our sales are online now. So far today we’ve had 905 books ordered online, and it’s noon. People like to handle and see books, no matter how much material you put online. They want the experience of coming into the store. Plus it’s a great place to pick someone up."

I've not yet had the pleasure of visiting the shop, but it's definitely on the agenda for the next time I visit New York. I'm afraid, however, that I might never come out.