“If it’s all about money, there’s just better things to sell”

Two weeks ago, I mailed a book of poetry to a friend; it was a book I had owned for many years, but I wasn’t sure how long exactly, which is why I looked inside, and saw the notation of a book shop in Heidelberg, which used to be a fantastic place to buy English books. They sold new books and used ones, it was a tiny bookshop with a huge collection of poetry, and its owner cared deeply about literature (rather than revenue); I owe much of my early reading in English to the owner and sales clerks in that bookshop, who always somehow managed to suggest the right kind of book for me. Like many smaller bookshops in Heidelberg, this one closed down many years ago. When I saw that a Facebook friend had posted the video below, about a man selling books out of his apartment, on his page, I was reminded of the small Heidelberg bookshops that introduced me to literature. Bookshops are not regular businesses, are they? In my case, they were places where you learned about a vast literary world, which could well change your life. It was from bookshops that I learned to love poetry, and I can still go to my shelves and pull out books of poetry that were important for my understanding of art and life, and see, in the front or the back, a small sticker, a stamp or the carefully scribbled numbers that evoke to me, to this day, the smells, sounds and words from each of these book shops. Another dear (French) friend of mine wants to open, against all odds, a bookshop within the next year or two, and I have no words to express how much I admire her attempt to do it.

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2 thoughts on ““If it’s all about money, there’s just better things to sell”

  1. Pingback: Enthusiasms and me (monologue) « shigekuni.

  2. Saw this on TV some time ago. It impressed me then and it did so again, watching it here.
    Reminded me of someone I knew rue Monsieur le Prince who also had a tiny librairie. He lived in a small room behind it and we would gather there, perched on his bed or on the floor and talk books – and anything else that came to mind – for hours on end. He died, the librairie was sold, the books scattered and the place became a sandwich outlet.
    For me, Maurice was the last ‘bohème’ in the Quartier latin. A sort of grandfatherly figure who lived from hand to mouth but was wiser than any millionaire. And happier.

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