Sunday, July 05, 2020

Tonight's Movie: The Booksellers (2019) - A Kino Lorber DVD Review

The documentary THE BOOKSELLERS (2019), about the world of rare books in New York, was recently released on DVD by Kino Lorber.

Actress Parker Posey was the executive producer of this film, which looks at not only the sellers of rare books, but the clientele they serve.

The film explores rare books from a variety of standpoints, including what drives those who get into the book business, the benefits and difficulties of selling and collecting in the internet and digital book era, the long-term value of collections, and what happens to the books when sellers leave the business or collectors pass on.

It's both interesting and somewhat poignant to contemplate that both sellers and buyers are temporary custodians of these pieces of history which are, in many cases, far older than the people who own them. In perhaps the best scenarios, collections end up in universities and museums where they can be accessed by future researchers, potentially reaching wide audiences through digitization; in many cases, though, the books eventually go to auction, and it's hoped they find new homes where they'll continue to be treasured.

There's also an issue that while some rare booksellers are relatively young (such as Heather O'Donnell, seen here), a majority of New York's rare booksellers are older people, raising questions about to what extent the business will die off as they pass from the scene.

One of the most interesting points made in the film was that for many, collecting books is all about the thrill of the hunt, which is no longer what it once was due to the internet. The thrill of the chase is, in many ways, gone with so much now available simply by typing on a keyboard; while some regret this change, books being more widely available can also be a blessing for buyers. That's not always the case for sellers, however, who have to compete in a market where product is more widely available, driving down prices.

The documentary includes sequences on New York's Argosy and Strand bookstores, which have each been in business since the 1920s. I found it particularly moving to watch at a time when so many stores have had to close in New York and elsewhere due to the pandemic, and I found myself wondering how the stores seen in the film are faring this year. Here in California, I've been concerned about the survival of the unique Larry Edmunds Bookshop, which has specialized in books on film since the 1930s.

While I would have recommended shaving off a handful of the film's 99 minutes, it's an absorbing and even educational film which I found quite worthwhile.

THE BOOKSELLERS was directed by D.W. Young and filmed by Peter Bolte.

The DVD includes the trailer, featurettes, and a gallery of trailers for additional documentaries available from Kino Lorber, some of which have review links below.

Previous reviews of documentaries released by Kino Lorber: OBIT: LIFE ON DEADLINE (2016), HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY (2015), DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME (2016), THE GODDESSES OF FOOD (2016), BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY (2017), CHEF FLYNN (2018), LINDA RONDSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE (2019), and DIANA KENNEDY: NOTHING FANCY (2019).

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this DVD.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older