The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop : A Memoir, A History / Lewis Buzbee

In this compact book, Lewis Buzbee gives a guided tour of the book business throughout history and the eventual rise of bookshops. The reader travels from Alexandria to Classical Rome, from ancient China to the Age of Enlightenment, as he traces the important role printed books played in society.  He is someone with a deep passion for books—delighting in their smell, touch, and content.  This is both a historical account of the bookstore and a memoir of his time spent in them.  A former bookseller and publisher’s sales rep before becoming an author himself, Buzbee is clearly “at home” when surrounded by a canyon of stocked bookshelves. This is a tome that any book reader will appreciate, as it celebrates the unique experience of reading and the industry that supports it.  I found the historical aspects of the book to be quite enlightening. Since its publication in 2006, many of the bookstores he highlights are no longer in existence. He does address the rise of the electronic book and online book purchasing, but this section already feels quite dated.  Since the book’s publication, e-books have become ubiquitous and Amazon.com has grown even more dominant.  In some ways, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is an elegy to the demise of the bookstores he so loves.  But it is a fitting tribute, which the community of readers will appreciate and identify with.  Buzbee makes an eloquent, convincing argument that while bookstores will have to adapt and change, as they have down through all the upheavals of history, they will continue to survive.

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