Announcing the Launch of Our New Website!
We’re thrilled to announce the launch of our new website, which aims to bring a bit of the bookshop and Paris to you, wherever you might be. It includes a blog, audio recordings from our events, more archival photographs, and (finally!) a way for all our far-flung friends to have books from the shop shipped to them anywhere in the world.
For us, having an online shop isn’t about trying to compete with the big internet companies or ignoring the existence of e-books. It’s about acknowledging the new consumer norms of convenience and efficiency, all while adventuring ever deeper into the Wonderland of what an independent bookstore can be.
Indies are exceedingly important to the book industry, as well as to local communities and to the big world of ideas. They encourage reading, and they champion variety over homogeneity. In France, booksellers benefit from a fixed book price agreement that has helped strengthen the presence of books throughout the country. (Germany and Japan have similar laws.) In Paris alone, there are more than one thousand bookstores. Only a few years ago, many British and American readers entering our shop would let out exclamations like “Oh, yes, this is what bookshops used to look like” and “Remember that terrific bookstore we used to have by our house . . . ” The good news is that we now hear these comments less often. The business of brick-and-mortar shops overall appears to be stabilizing, e-book sales seem to have steadied, and the fashion to state that “the independent bookstore is dead” may itself be dying.
Wherever I travel, I visit local bookshops and am enchanted: the choir of voices in the room dedicated wholly to poetry at City Lights; the travel section at Daunt, vast as an ocean and as rich with life; the sexy catwalk of new and emerging British writers at the new Foyles; at Atlantis, the smell of paperbacks perfumed by warm, salty sea air; New York-style cool and the cutting-edge lit scene at McNally Jackson—and on and on I could go, reciting thriving shops that have moved, awed and inspired me. Indies are today able to adapt to markets more quickly than in previous years, while still offering customers gorgeous editions and expertly curated selections.
Which brings us back to Shakespeare and Company’s new e-shop. Here, you’re not likely to find cut-rate bargains, but you may find something you didn’t even know you were seeking, like a rare title recommended by our biblio-insatiable staff. Or you may discover a first edition that we ourselves discovered in a private collection, a book hitherto tucked onto a shelf of an elegant Parc Monceau flat. Or you may read on our blog about a singer/songwriter’s passion for Swedish literature and then decide to sample a new author or two.
In return for your online purchase, we’ll endeavor to give your books that certain je ne sais quoi. It could be with the bookstore’s official stamp, a vintage postcard of Paris we found in a second-hand book, or a pocket-sized poem typed by a Tumbleweed at the desk looking onto Notre-Dame. Each package will be carefully, beautifully boxed and shipped, sent like a message in a bottle to you or perhaps to a friend, a message of warmth and solidarity that wherever you may be, in whatever town or city, there’s always a home for readers and literary wanderers at Shakespeare and Company.
If you ever come to Paris
On a cold and rainy night
And find the Shakespeare Store
It can be a welcome sight
Because it has a motto
Something friendly and wise
Be kind to strangers
Lest they’re Angels in Disguise
–The Shakespeare and Company song (written by two Tumbleweeds, 1985)