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The Letters of Sylvia Beach
4/20/2010 - Melissa Harmon

I came across a Book review on the recently  released  The Letters of Sylvia Beach. (1887-1962) Who was Sylvia Beach?  She was the founder of the Shakespeare and Company book store chain and the first publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses.  At a time when the Independent Bookstore is beyond endangered and even  the future of the  newspaper is  in doubt  I find it nostalgically riveting  to look back at the good old days;  especially when that era  includes a woman pioneer of  both Literature and Business. Here’s an excerpt from a review in the New York Times on her letters edited by Keri Walsh

“The Letters of Sylvia Beach” is a small, excellent primer on bookselling and its discontents. When world events get interesting, she complains, people buy newspapers, not books. She scrambles, during the early war years, to find fuel to keep the store habitable. And she dispels some of the profession’s romance. “A bookshop is mostly tiresome details all day long and you have to have a passion for it,” she writes, “to grub and grub in it. I have always loved books and their authors, and for the sake of them swallowed the rest of it, but you can’t expect everyone to do the same.”

It  wasn’t  long ago that television was seen as the technology that would erode the thoughtful world of books and reading . Now TV is shaking from the threat of being replaced by the internet. I wonder what Sylvia would think about the Kindle or Sony reader?

 Speaking of which I came across this wonderful  virtual tour  of the first Shakespeare and Company bookstore.  When it comes to the Lost Generation and the Left Bank of  Paris I could almost swoon. Especially after this deliciously slow 360 degree tour of the nooks and crannies of the store.

There is  further   information at Wikipedia including more links on the life and times  of  Sylvia Beach.


3 Comments From Other Members
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4/21/2010 Jamie Dedes from Menlo Park CA wrote:
What fun! I checked out the virtual tour earlier today and loved it. Thank you!
4/21/2010 Joan Flynn from Wichita KS wrote:
I am a book junkie and may have to add this to my library. I can't imagine life without books in it. And yes I still prefer reading my paper in hand and not online. Although I have seen the Kindle up close, and will admit it does have some appeal, I just can't believe it will completely replace books. Am I just getting old?
4/21/2010 Melissa Harmon from Woodbridge NJ wrote:
I also prefer hard copy but at $2.00 per day the New York Times ($5.00 on sundays) has become an expensive option. You add up the pennies and it comes to around $900.00 a year. That's just short of what I pay for my bundled yearly cable and a broadband connection. and yes, we are getting up there in years just as the prices of everything seems to be rising, despite a lack of so called "inflation."

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