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THE BOOKSELLERS gets 7.5/10 Off the shelf

Directed by D.W. Young

Featuring Gay Talese, Fran Lebowitz, Parker Posey


As if we didn’t know, The Booksellers exposes the fascinating world of the book addicts, a colourful cast of people who hold their historical items dear. This may be a specific nerdom, within even more specific nerdoms, but this documentary is contagious with the ecstatic enthusiasm these collectors/sellers have for their passion, imparting the importance of the written word.

Putting its attention on each book-collector one at a time, most of them immediately reveal themselves to be both entirely impassioned and knowledgeable about their own corner of book knowledge as well as being able to convey this with plenty of hilarity, eccentricity, and a little dose of self-aware self-deprecation.

The documentary shows off these collections, some of them stuffed in comfy apartments, others taking up a vast amount of space in towering shelves in warehouses or impressive private libraries. Some collectors have a lot of dough to be spending on both their collection and the elaborate shelving and organisation system for them, whereas others simply have them packed up in their homes. Although confined to mostly New Yorkers, The Booksellers makes sure to spend time with the different kinds of booksellers, breaking the stereotypes of this group, and conveys the various histories of bookstores and their aficionados.

Despite the initial steam The Booksellers has, it deteriorates as it begins to talk outwardly about the book-collecting world rather than investigate it from within. The documentary makes great effort to discuss the importance of female and black authors throughout history, yet it seems hypocritical that The Booksellers doesn’t actually convey this history, like it had just done for predominantly white male authors. It would’ve been hugely preferable to still keep the talk of its importance, but also actually discuss its history as well.

For the most part, The Booksellers is a straight-forward and concise look at the bookworms of New York whose range of amusing personalities make this very entertaining. It could’ve spend more time divulging on the complex history of how the world of books end up in this part of the world, but it seems to put more of a focus on the booksellers of today and commits itself fully to their passion.


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