The Art of the Bookstore: Bookstore Paintings of Gibbs M. Smith

Overview

For several decades, publisher Gibbs Smith has been visiting independent booksellers around the country. Inspired by the unique culture and ambiance of these fine bookstores, he made oil paintings to feature on the covers of his publishing company’s catalog each season. This collection of 68 paintings, accompanied by essays about the art of the bookstore, captures the distinctive atmosphere of each establishment, from the bright lights of Washington D.C.’s Politics & Prose to the tucked away charm of ...

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Overview

For several decades, publisher Gibbs Smith has been visiting independent booksellers around the country. Inspired by the unique culture and ambiance of these fine bookstores, he made oil paintings to feature on the covers of his publishing company’s catalog each season. This collection of 68 paintings, accompanied by essays about the art of the bookstore, captures the distinctive atmosphere of each establishment, from the bright lights of Washington D.C.’s Politics & Prose to the tucked away charm of Chicago’s Kroch’s & Brentano’s to the magnetism of New York’s Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore. The Art of the Bookstore celebrates independent voices and the exchange of ideas, defends the importance of community, explores the alluring power of bookstores, and captures a love of the printed word.

Gibbs Smith, founder and president of his namesake publishing company, started the business in 1969 with his wife, Catherine, in Santa Barbara, California. After a couple of years, they moved the company to their hometown, Layton, Utah. This book is a celebration of 40 years as an independent publisher.

Jacket design by Kurt Wahlner

Jacket art by Gibbs M. Smith

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423606437
  • Publisher: Smith, Gibbs Publisher
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Edition description: Limited Edition Slipcased Hardcover Sign
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 1,453,186
  • Product dimensions: 7.92 (w) x 10.38 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Gibbs M. Smith always wanted to be a history professor. But while in pursuit of his master’s degree, Smith wrote a dissertation on Joe Hill–American labor martyr, proletarian folk hero, and songwriter–that profoundly changed his life. After the book was published by the University of Utah press and made into a movie, Gibbs started entertaining the idea of starting his own publishing company. While riding a cable car in San Francisco and contemplating this venture, he wrote Alfred Knopf a letter. "In my view, he was the greatest publisher in America," reflects Smith. Knopf wrote back with words of encouragement; later they spoke over the phone. Gibbs now had the inspiration needed to embark upon this extraordinary entrepreneurial adventure. In 1969, Gibbs and his wife, Catherine, started the company known today as Gibbs Smith, Publisher. With $12,000 in cash earned from the Smiths’ work on the movie Joe Hill, the company published four initial books, which would be used as supplementary texts in college history classes. The first few years were tough, as Gibbs and his wife, Cathy, ran the company out of their studio apartment in Santa Barbara.

In 1973, the company relocated to Utah, where Gibbs and Cathy reinvested profits back into the business and lived on savings. They spent the first summer there converting an old barn (built in 1916) on the family farm into offices. It was a race against time, as the barn had no roof and winter was rapidly approaching. During that summer they also managed to publish a new textbook, Utah’s Heritage. This proved to be a very wise decision, as the company’s textbook division provided financial stability during the early years.

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Read an Excerpt

What gives a bookstore a personality? Is it the books organized on the shelves? Is it the character of the building that houses the bookstore? Is it the owner? Is it the staff? I can’t answer the question I pose. All I can say is I can feel a personality in each store that I visit. It’s more than an individual. It’s more than the physical location. It’s almost magical. The store develops a personality. The store itself becomes an old friend. You’re glad it’s there, glad you can visit, glad that you can have the connection through the varying moods of your own life. That’s why it’s very sad when a great store ceases operation—it’s like the loss of an old friend. There’s an emotional connection. It hurts when a store closes.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 8

Booksellers 20

Kroch's & Brentano's 22 Chicago, Illinois

Bank Street Bookstore 24 New York City

Barnes & Noble at Union Square 26 New York City

Strand Book Store 28 New York City

Book Soup 30 Los Angeles, California

Books & Co. 32 New York City

Borders 34 Ann Arbor, Michigan

Broadway Books 36 Portland, Oregon

Chapters: A Literary Bookstore 38 Washington, D.C.

Chaucer's Books 40 Santa Barbara, California

Christopher's Books 42 San Francisco, California

City Lights Books 44 nSan Francisco, California

Cody’s Books 46 Berkeley, California

Collected Works 50 Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Corner Bookstore 52 New York City

The Cottage Book Shop 54 Glen Arbor, Michigan

The Depot Bookstore & Café 56 Mill Valley, California

Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore 58 New York City

D.G. Wills Books 60 La Jolla, California

Riverow Bookshop 62 Owego, New York

Kramerbooks & Afterwords 64 Washington, D.C.

Lenox Hill Bookstore 66 New York City

Dutton's Beverly Hills Books 68 Beverly Hills, California

The Elliott Bay Book Company 72 Seattle, Washington

Garcia Street Books 74 Santa Fe, New Mexico

Gotham Book Mart 76 New York City

Green Apple Books 78 San Francisco, California

Hennessey + Ingalls 80 Santa Monica, California

Jay's Book Stall 82 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

El Ateneo Grand Splendid 84 Buenos Aires, Argentina

Ken Sanders Rare Books 86 Salt Lake City, Utah

Prairie Avenue Bookshop 88 Chicago, Illinois

Kepler's Books 90 Menlo Park, California

Madison Avenue Bookshop 92 New York City

Maria's Bookshop 94 Durango, Colorado

Mrs. Dalloway's Literary & Garden Arts 96 Berkeley, California

Page and Palette 98 Fairhope, Alabama

The King's English 100 Salt Lake City, Utah

Politics and Prose Bookstore 102 Washington, D.C.

Powell's Books 104 Portland, Oregon

Changing Hands Bookstore 106 Tucson, Arizona

Prairie Lights Books 108 Iowa City, Iowa

Rizzoli Bookstore 110 New York City

R.J. Julia Independent Booksellers 112 Madison, Connecticut

Sam Weller's Zion Bookstore 114 Salt Lake City, Utah

Shakespeare & Co. 116 Paris, France

Tattered Cover Book Store 118 Denver, Colorado

Skylight Books 120 Los Angeles, California

Books & Books 122 Coral Gables, Florida

Builders Booksource 124 Berkeley, California

St. Mark's Bookshop 126 New York City

Tecolote Book Shop 128 Santa Barbara, California

That Bookstore in Blytheville 130 Blytheville, Arkansas

Three Lives & Company 132 New York City

Village Books 134 Bellingham, Washington

Vroman's Bookstore 136 Pasadena, California

Warwick's 138 La Jolla, California

Watermark Books & Café 140 Wichita, Kansas

Resources 146

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