A wonderful friend began sending me Bob Eckstein's watercolor postcards of famous, still existing, and no longer existing, brick-and-mortar bookstores from across the globe when I was laid up for a few months from an injury last year. Each postcard includes the year the store was opened. I found this link to an Etsy page with the postcards. The postcards are images from the New York Times best-selling book Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers, and Book Lovers, published in 2016.
There are too many to share all the bookstores in the collection, but a few of my favorites, some visited, others not yet, include Adobe Books in San Francisco, USA; El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina*; Hatchards in London, England; The Golden Notebook in Woodstock, NY, USA; Librairie Avant-Garde, Nanjing, China; Bókin, Reykjavíc, Iceland; and Underground Books and Art Gallery, Coober Pedy, South Australia.
Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores is a "collection of 75 evocative paintings and colorful anecdotes [that] invites you into the heart and soul of every community: the local bookshop, each with its own quirks, charms, and legendary stories. The book features an incredible roster of great bookstores from across the globe and stories from writers, thinkers and artists of our time, including David Bowie, Tom Wolfe, Jonathan Lethem, Roz Chast, Deepak Chopra, Bob Odenkirk, Philip Glass, Jonathan Ames, Terry Gross, Mark Maron, Neil Gaiman, Ann Patchett, Chris Ware, Molly Crabapple, Amitav Ghosh, Alice Munro, Dave Eggers, and many more. Page by page, Eckstein perfectly captures our lifelong love affair with books, bookstores, and book-sellers that is at once heartfelt, bittersweet, and cheerfully confessional.
As Amazon continues its deforestation of the book industry (the book is available on Amazon here), revisit your local bookstore, and find and mail these postcards to the world, your friends, family, and enemies. Perhaps one day, these postcards might find their way onto a wall in a scene in a future nostalgic Hollywood rendition, reminding us of the importance of local bookstores once "civilization is dead," and long COVID as a neurological disease devastates humanity.
*A bucket list destination.