Praise for independent booksellers from Peter Osnos

June 30th was the close of our fiscal year, and we are proud to say fiscal year 2009-2010 was a record for us in sales, up more than 7 percent over the previous year.  We can attribute such an increase to our talented, hardworking staff of booksellers whose dedication to their jobs is palpable everywhere in the store.

This past week a customer gave us a wonderful example of how our booksellers affect people's lives.  She spoke English with a noticeable accent, and said that when her daughter was very young, she wanted more than anything for her daughter to learn to speak English without an accent.  One of our booksellers in the children's department offered to read to the daughter several times a week during this time that she was learning to speak (and to read).  That daughter now will be starting her freshman year at Columbia University in the fall, an accomplishment that her mother traced back to Politics and Prose.

We also want to thank Peter Osnos, the publisher and founder of PublicAffairs Books for the words of praise he wrote on June 22 in The Atlantic online. He wrote about the current atmosphere of bookselling and "the role of [a] generation of master booksellers, leaders in the field of independent bookselling" while also providing some recognition to our store, which he called, "a superb emporium" with "an illustrious 26-year history." He added, "Politics and Prose is what a great bookstore should be: a community anchor with reading groups, almost nightly author events, a helpful and knowledgeable staff, and a downstairs coffee shop." He also provided a tribute to some of our colleagues in this field, women whom we have both learned from, and grown with, as we have been involved in this business.

In the best of times, bookselling in the "indie" tradition is a business that requires an especially resilient spirit, given how complex it is to remain viable in an economy dominated by national chains, consolidation, and technology behemoths. These booksellers all have excelled in the relationship aspects of what they do, shaping a loyal customer base by making their stores essential in the way people feel about their communities. Independent booksellers will have to overcome the convenience and advantages of online and on-demand bookselling by continuing to give premium service and supporting cultural activities around books.

Osnos acknowledged, "What characterizes these stalwarts is their commitment to the art of hand-selling good books and the evolving science of marketing. . . .Every trade and profession has its stars and this great generation of independent booksellers has earned a lasting place in publishing lore and the respect and gratitude of all who have benefited from them." Thank you for your praise, Peter. Read the entire article by clicking here.

-- Barbara & Carla