Friday, July 20, 2018

Books of Wonder

Bookstore: Books of Wonder

Location: New York, New York

Why I Love Them: Initially I only knew Books of Wonder as a publisher of books, mainly reprints of old titles in beautiful new editions. Therefore I was really excited when I was planning a trip in 2000 to visit New York for a David Bowie concert to learn that Books of Wonder wasn't just a publisher but a bookstore as well! In fact it was the bookstore that was the basis for Meg Ryan's "The Shop Around the Corner" in You've Got Mail. I remember taking a cab downtown and how busy the street was, just like in a movie. I couldn't wait for this small independent bookstore to take me far away from reality with it's cuteness. I think perhaps I needed to remember that movies and reality are two totally different things. Because the bookstore wasn't anything like I imagined. I don't know if it was undergoing renovations or what, but the inside was cordoned off and really small with very few books on white bookshelves that were movable. Seeing as there were few shelves I don't know what they would have done with more books. The whole store felt sparse and temporary. Where was the original artwork they were known to display? Where was the space for their epic signings? It felt too awkward to ask the clerk why their store was so disappointing so instead I looked over their shelves to find something to buy. As most of their self-published books I already owned I picked up a copy of The Princess and the Goblin for my mother and a new Redwall book for myself. But one day I will go back and solve this disappointing mystery!   

Best Buy: When I really started getting into collecting special editions of books the Books of Wonder reprints of L. Frank Baum's Oz books were something I really looked forward to finding. They'd release them on a schedule unknown to me but every time I'd go to Borders I'd check to see if the next Oz book had been republished and do a dance of joy if there was a new one on the shelf. So while I technically didn't buy them at the store I'm still making them my best buy. They did had a lovely window display that I took a really bad picture of if you want some proof! If you force me to choose, the favorite of the Oz books would be Ozma of Oz with The Emerald City of Oz as a close second. Ozma of Oz because it's the book that the movie Return to Oz is heavily based on, though there is no shock treatment in the book, and The Emerald City of Oz for the amazing glitter spot varnish, it's so pretty! What's interesting to me about the Oz books is that I've never finished reading the whole series. They start so strong and keep tapering off in quality until you kind of just tune out. The main problem I have is that L. Frank Baum is so bitter about these being his only popular books. His introductions are not even slightly veiled hostility but outright rage at everyone making him write Oz books. His hatred leaks into the narrative and he writes in a very condescending tone so that once you leave behind the books with the unique spines and move onto the standardized design, which I admit does look nice on a bookshelf, you just kind of stop reading. In fact I feel an attempt to finish coming on again... let's see how far I get this time!  


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