Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On My Mind: Last Visit to Strand Annex Is A Sad Affair

After bemoaning the demise of the Strand Annex, I finally made it over to Fulton Street this past weekend to officially say goodbye. Here's what I found:

First, a hysterical sign announcing their lease extension:
Ladders & empty shelves galore:
...and hundreds of books you've never heard of, five of which I rescued from the liquidator's grubby hands.

I spent a great deal of time perusing fiction, my favorite section, from A thru Z, and I left feeling pretty sad about the whole thing. No, it wasn't the half-vacated space and the pall of economic ruin. It was the realization that what remained a week before the Strand's original closing date was an unsentimental death sentence for the authors of the books that remained in inventory.

If you were an author and wanted to see if your book had any resonance or longevity in the world of readers, you could come to the Strand Annex before it closes and check the fiction shelves to see if your book(s) was still being sold for 50% off--a month after the sale began. And if it was, you would know that not only did the city's book lovers not want your book, but neither did the used book wholesalers or other book collectors with their esoteric taste in literature and worship of the NY Review of Books.

It's a sad thing, but the hundreds of books that remain are written a> by writers you've never heard of, b> by writers you'd heard of who who winced at mention of said failed book c> by people you've heard of like Pam Anderson or Joe Esterhaus (no joke), whose talents are best served outside long form literature or d> by writers you would like to day..when you get done reading all the stuff you really want to read.

Whatever the case, let's say a little prayer for the thousands of hours of effort, anguish, hopes and dashed dreams that produced these books and for the closing of one of the only places in the city, possibly the world, where these books might have had a chance of connecting with a reader.

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