Film review: The Booksellers (15)

PUBLISHED: 15:42 24 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:42 24 June 2020

The Booksellers documentary about the New York Antiquarian booksellers

The Booksellers documentary about the New York Antiquarian booksellers

Archant

A documentary about New York Antiquarian booksellers sounds boring, and it is: charmingly, endearingly, reassuringly dull.

In this world of wild uncertainty, it’s good to have something to rely on that fulfils expectations.

This is a documentary about Antiquarian booksellers. It sounds pretty boring, and it is: charmingly, endearingly, reassuringly dull.

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Being about the New York book scene ought to give it a bit more zip than if it concerned say, the Penrith second-hand book scene. But if anything it makes it duller. Outside the practicalities of pricing rare books and dealing with book auctions, all the film has is to explore is how the internet is destroying the biblio ecosystem.

I have spent a fair amount of time browsing second-hand bookshops and dealing with the people who run them and know this to be true: they are uniformly miserable people, immersed in disgruntlement.

Now there is definitely a magic to a room packed with musty old hardbacks, but the film’s claims to the charm and eccentricity of the second-hand book world is undercut by almost all the people in it being collectors. There is something terribly life-sapping about that. To be a collector is to choose to exist on the hard shoulder of life, removed from the action.

2/5


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