Friday, January 23, 2009

Scribner's Rocked

"I worked at Scribner’s bookstore from 1967 to 1972. The Strand was just a short period after that, and I didn’t like it. I worked in the basement, and it wasn’t very friendly. Scribner’s, though, was beautiful. People there took being book clerks seriously—you had to read The New York Times Book Review. I read a lot of French poetry: Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Nerval. Paul Bowles. Biographies of Yeats or Diego Rivera. And I could look at all the art books I wanted during lunch."
~ Patti Smith

I felt the same way about the Strand, back then there were 8 Miles of Books and a slight element of unfriendliness. Now there are 18 Miles of Books and it feels like a mega-store, selling toys and crap.

Scribner's was always my favorite, and the staff was incredibly upbeat and helpful. When it went out of business a series of clothing stores came and went, and now it's a cosmetics shop. The interior is beautiful still.

Rock of Ages ~ A very readable little volume that begins with swing, blues, and country to show the roots of rock. I was given this book one Christmas ages ago, and since then there of course have been updated versions to include new forms of rock, new performers and to update the stories of older rockers. It's pretty much all you need unless you want to study the subject very seriously. (written by Ward Tucker & Stokes) There is also a large format illustrated History of Rock put out by Rolling Stone Magazine, but it has less information and I didn't find it all that interesting compared to this little gem.


R.L. Bourges said...

When I was much younger - lifetimes ago, it seems - and still living in Montréal, I remember taking a bus trip to New York.

While I was there, I visited Scribner's, among others, the way someone else might have gone on pilgrimage to Compostello.

Did the same kind of thing on my first trip to Paris, visiting bookstores such as Gallimard's. Happy as could be, just wandring through the aisles and soaking in the smell of paper, ink, and book bindings.

Was it Benetton or some other clothes emporium that took over the Scribner building? (Same kind of thing has happened in Paris, by the way, with many of the great bookstores in the 7e arrondissement now selling designer clothes. hrmmph...)

Coffee Messiah said...

Sad about the mom and pop bookstores.

Seems they are disappearing slowly and one at a time.

City Lights and The Green Apple in SF were my haunts and Moes in Berkeley ; )

And your previous post too ; )

tut-tut said...

I remember both the Strand and Scribner's. There was something hushed and holy about Scribner's. I used to work way downtown and frequent the Strand. I was too shy to recognize unfriendly people . . .

Is Rizzoli's still extant?


Avid Reader said...

I worked just around the corner from Scribner's. I once counted the steps from my office building to the door of Scribner's - I can't remember how many it was now, maybe 49 or 50. They were always gracious and I was in there a lot, never buying anything more than a $4 paperback. They were always "Oh this is a good book" or "I want to read this one myself- let me know how you like it -" when you were at the till. Or they'd ask if I'd read so-n-so because they thought I'd like her writing. And I was just a kid in my twenties, the Scribner's staff seemed so elegant and warm back then. A good combination.

Rizzoli's is still there, on 57th, and still good. It's where Robert DeNiro and Meryl Streep meet in the Scorsese film "Falling in Love"

e said...

I have never been to New York, but I did visit City Lights in San Francisco a decade ago...

The demise of independent bookstores tears at my heart, as does the corporatization of our nation's media...

I frequent the few independent bookstores where I live as often as I can, but at this point, find myself using the libraries more...

My Classic Fiction Book List -Partial List

  • Austen, Jane: (Complete Works)
  • Balzac: Cousin Bette/ Eugenie Grandet / Cousin Pons
  • Best Russian Short Stories
  • Boyle, TC: Short Works
  • Brennan, Maeve : Short Works, 1 Novella
  • Bronte, Emily, Ann, Jane (Complete Works)
  • Brookner, Anita ( Complete Works)
  • Cather, Willa (Complete Works)
  • Chekov: Short Works
  • David Copperfield (Dickens)
  • Dickens:A Tale of Two Cities
  • Dickens:Great Expectations
  • Dickens:Nicholas Nickelby
  • Dickens:Our Mutual Friend
  • Dickens:The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Doyle, Roddy (some novels, memoir)
  • Drabble, Margaret (4 Novels)
  • Drieser, Theodore (Complete Works)
  • Fitzgerald, F.Scott (Most Novels & short works)
  • Hardy, Thomas (Complete Works)
  • Hemingway, Short stories
  • Hemingway: The Old Man in the Sea
  • Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises
  • Hugo: Les Miserables/Hunchback Of ND
  • James, Henry: Daisy Miller
  • James, Henry: In The Cage
  • James, Henry: Portrait of a Lady
  • James, Henry: The Golden Bowl
  • James, Henry: What Maisy Knew
  • James, Henry: Wings of a Dove
  • James, Henry:The Ambassadors
  • James, Henry; The Bostonians
  • Kerouac: Dharma Bums
  • Kerouac: On The Road
  • Kerouac: The Subterraneans
  • Kerouac: Tristessa
  • Lardner,Ring:Short Works
  • Larsen: Quicksand
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Arrowsmith
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Free Air
  • Lewis, Sinclair: Main Street
  • Lewis, Sinclair: The Job
  • MacGill, Patrick (Complete works)
  • Mackin, Walter (novels)
  • Maupassant: Short Works, novels
  • McGahern, John (novels of)
  • McNulty, John (Short Works)
  • Norris, Frank: McTeague
  • O'Brien, Edna (3 Novels)
  • O'Donnell, Paeder : Novels of
  • O. Henry
  • Potok, Chaim (4 novels/1 non fiction)
  • Salinger, JD : Nine Stories
  • Salinger: Franny & Zooey
  • Salinger: Raise High the Roofbeams
  • Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Dodsworth
  • Sinclair, Lewis: Elmer Gantry
  • Sinclair, Upton: King Coal
  • Sinclair, Upton: The Jungle
  • Steinbeck, John: Sweet Thursday
  • Steinbeck: Winter of our Discontent
  • Steinbeck: Cannery Row
  • Steinbeck: East of Eden
  • Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath
  • Theroux, Paul (3 Novels )
  • Toibin, Colm: (Novels of)
  • Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
  • Tolstoy: Short Works
  • Turgenev (2 novels)
  • Twain: T Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi
  • Vonnegut: Early Works (1950s-60s)
  • Wharton, Edith: Novels of/Short Stories
  • Women & Fiction (Edit. Cahill)
  • Zola, Emile ( 10 novels)