San Francisco bookstore is about 18" deep

This morning I posted about two claustrophobic bookstores, one in Helsinki and one in Paris. Brian Heater (our Comics Rack columnist and the director of media at Engadget) sent me a photo of what might be the most claustrophobic bookstore of all: GF Wilkinson Books in San Francisco. It's claustrophobic not because of book clutter; it's simply because store is so small that if you stood inside it and the doors were to close, you'd be squeezed.

Brian says:

It's essentially a wall of displays converted into a bookstore. I had a nice conversation with the titular Mr. Wilkinson, who has been in the book selling business for a number of years. This is just the latest incarnation. Perhaps some model for the future as Amazon and e-books continue to take a bite out of the bookstore market? Says he was inspired by the book tables set up around Manhattan (a number of whom, including one Aaron Cometbus, formed a wonderfully curated bookstore in Brooklyn called Book Thug Nation). I bought a terrific little pamphlet from 1949 called Toros Without Tears: A Simple Explanation of a Bullfight.

The SF Gate did a nice piece on Wilkinson last January.

Delightfully claustrophobic bookstore in Paris

Jenny Hart (my friend who makes those cute iron-on embroidery patterns and kits) saw my post of the claustrophobic bookstore in Helsinki and it reminded her of a charming claustrophobic bookstore in Paris. She wrote about it on Dinosaurs and Robots.

Un Regard Moderne is considered affectionately by many to be the greatest bookstore on earth. Tucked away on a tiny street in Paris, the space is so crammed with obscure books on art, photography, comics and true crime that only two people can sorta fit in there for browsing. The owner, Jacques Noël, stands quietly on a stack of books in the corner (sometimes only his forehead and a plume of smoke can be seen), graciously willing and able to locate any book from a mind-boggling array of stacks that seem to close in more and more each time I return. I once asked him if he had any books by Polish artist and author Bruno Shulz. He thought a moment and said no, he didn't. But the next time I stopped in several weeks later, without even inquiring, he silently walked over to me and placed two copies in my hands he'd ordered. Ah, Paris! Buenaventura Press has some good photos on Flickr giving you a feel for it.

Claustrophobic bookstore in Helsinki (photos)

My friend Randy is on a business trip in Helsinki. The last time he was there he told me about a tiny bookstore that was stacked floor to ceiling with books. I asked him to snap some photos the next time he went. Here they are.

He says:

I walked to the crazy bookstore I told you about. The sign reads ANTIKVARIAATTI, which means Antique Store. But it’s clearly overloaded with books only. The whole store is maybe 200 sq ft, and the books are stacked more than 10 feet high. In many areas at least 4-5 layers deep. The space for walking is barely 2 ft wide.

Read the rest

Fundraising the expansion of Red Emma's, Baltimore's amazing radical bookstore cafe

Red Emma's, Baltimore's astoundingly awesome collectively run radical bookstore/cafe, is having an Indiegogo fundraiser that's gone into its final stretch. Red Emma's has great coffee, is a community hub, and stocks really fabulous books. When I did an event there a few years back, I had a spectacular time. The world's a better place for having Red Emma's in it, which is why I just put $100 into the fundraiser.

We've just signed a lease for the fall of 2013; located at 30 West North Avenue, next door to Liam Flynn's Ale House (itself started by founding Red Emma's collective members!), the new space will be over five times the size of our current location.

We'll be expanding our food operation to a full kitchen, moving beyond our current limited cafe menu to really let some of the culinary talent we've got in the collective shine. And we'll be doing this in a way that makes extensive use of locally sourced agricultural products while keeping prices affordable: healthy, sustainable food should be the norm, not a luxury.

We'll be increasing the footprint of our bookstore sixfold—space constraints alone have prevented us from building the world class selection we've dreamed of, and the new space will make it possible to really build the kind of radical bookstore Baltimore deserves.

Our coffee is about to get a lot more exciting: we're bringing on board new local roaster Thread Coffee as a partner on the new project; not only will we be roasting coffee in-house, but we'll be using directly fair traded coffee from cooperatives in the global South.

The space is going to be far more welcoming; not only are we going to vastly expand the number of seats, we'll also be full-accessible in the new space (a compromise we had to make with our current location that's always been pretty troubling for us as a collective!)!

Plus! The Baltimore Free School is moving with us! The new Red Emma's space will offer a meeting and classroom space coordinated by the BFS collective, allowing us to offer free, year-round educational programming, as well as a space for groups to meet (with optional catering by Red Emma's) for reasonable rates.

Building a Better Red Emma's (Thanks, Christa!)

Where the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster came from

Here's the backstory behind the iconic "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters. Though 2.5 million were printed, they were never officially issued as they were reserved for crisis or invasion. 50 years later, Barter Books of Northumberland discovered a copy of the poster in a box of books from auction, and framed and hung it. They started selling copies a year later, and the rest is history.

The Story of Keep Calm and Carry On (via Kottke)