A Blogversation between Matt Kubus and Yolana Wassersug:
We all know that had it not been for Gonzalo, who ‘furnished [Prospero] from [his] own library with volumes that [he] prized,’ Prospero would have been marooned on the island without the ability to perform any magic. He couldn’t have enslaved Caliban, freed Ariel, or instructed his daughter. In a sense, The Tempest, as a narrative, could not have existed. It was his library of books that, for Prospero, was a ‘dukedom large enough’.
Many of our bookshop patrons share Prospero’s love of books. And many of those patrons come back and visit us again and again, happy to return to the familiar look and smell of our little bookshop. We are certainly not the only independent bookseller to be blessed with such a loyal following. Take, for instance, the much loved Flying Dragon Bookshop (an indepedent shop located in the Lakeside neighborhood of Toronto, Canada). Only one week after winning the Speciality Bookseller of the Year Award from the Canadian Booksellers Association, they have been forced to announce that they are closing their doors this June. This sad story, and so many others like it, reveal that even popular, well-loved independent booksellers don’t always survive our harsh economic climate.
I think that it’s possible that there is an even greater problem at work. I’m concerned about the book industry in general. It seems that books as material objects are becoming a thing of the past with the invention of the e-reader, etc. There is something about the tangible product, the smell of a brand new book that is so very tantalizing to me. But, before I digress too much, I would agree with you that there should be mass concern about the welfare of specialist independent bookshops. Our shop is one of the best in our particular specialisation, and it would be a disastrous day if we were no longer able to do business because of the service that we provide to our loyal customers. Unlike most shops in Stratford, we are one that does not survive solely on the tourist market, but on the students and lovers of Shakespeare from all over the world who keep coming back again and again.
You’re absolutely right. Like many independent shops that partipate in community-building initiatives, our bookshop does more than just sell books. We’re here to educate. Because we are part of the Birthplace Trust, we fit under their motto “leading in the world’s enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s Life and Times”. Our contribution to that mission statement is to add to the understanding of this subject by selling books on Shakespeare that are suitable to any reader, be they children, scholars, or people who want to start reading Shakespeare but never have before.
So, I suppose what we’re trying to say is to support your favourite local, independent bookshop! Leave a comment and tell us which shops around the world are your favourites! Then, come in and chat with us where we’ve always been: our lovely location at 39 Henley Street, just across from Shakespeare’s Birthplace.