Currently Viewing: Paperback Dreams

Just got through seeing the very well-done documentary Paperback Dreams which goes over the origins, importance and fates of two Bay Area independent bookstores: Cody’s Books and Kepler’s Books.

I haven’t had a chance to visit Kepler’s but the documentary sure did make me want to hop in the hooptie and pay em a visit.

As for Cody’s, I was lucky enough to have visited the iconic Telegraph Ave store and even got to catch a poetry reading there before they closed up shop. The old space on Telegraph has yet to be filled so when ever I pass by a part of me hopes to see a sign saying that Cody’s will be back.

Back to Paperback Dreams, the documentary is able to put the cultural importance of both bookstores into historical perspective while also maintaining a pragmatic edge by showing us how hard it is to keep an indy bookstore financially solvent in current times. It’s not just the economy that threatens the corner bookshop but also community apathy—we all love our institutions when they’re about the close their doors but can we love em while they’re still strugglin’ to survive?

A more focused series of questions for this blog’s audience (which I imagine is poetry authors and aficionados): Will Amazon host our poetry readings? Will Barnes and Noble carry our chapbooks? Will Borders order our favorite titles based on community demand? For those multidisciplinary poets: Will any of the big chains carry your CDs and/or videos of live performance? Can we continue to survive as poet authors if the independent bookstore fades away?

Author: Oscar Bermeo

Born in Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, Oscar Bermeo is the author of the chapbooks Anywhere Avenue, Palimpsest, Heaven Below, and To the Break of Dawn. He lives and works in Oakland, CA.

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