Review | ‘The Booksellers’ documentary is a book lover’s dream

The Booksellers | Dir: WD Young | ★ ★ ★ ★ 

The internet has certainly impacted on the popularity of books, but the book is not dead. Many people still like the feel and smell of a book, and are proud of their book collections whether the books are mundane or valuable.

This documentary starts off at an antiquarian book fair in New York – which had 368 bookstores in the 1950s and today there are just 79. We get to meet some of the book dealers, find out more about our relationship with books and appreciate some of the cultural values of both the books and the book dealers.

This is certainly a film for bibliophiles but also it is an interesting insight into the people who have dedicated their lives to books and preserving history. It is probably the only place you’ll see a book containing hair from an extinct mammoth, a book covered with human skin and teeth, and the world’s most expensive book sold at auction – Leonardo da Vinci’s science diary.

The world of books has changed considerably from being inhabited by the crabby old men “who were irritated if you wanted to buy a book” to sisters Judith, Naomi and Adina who own The Argosi Bookstore after inheriting it from their father Louis Cohen.

This charming documentary is full of nostalgia, but also of hope as new generations of collectors hunt for paper treasures. Now independent book stores run but passionate owners are replacing the chain stores that have mostly shut up shop.

My only complaint is that the documentary is a little long and wanes towards the end, but American lesbian writer Fran Lebowitz is a highlight with her insightful social commentary and dry wit.

The Booksellers screens from Thursday 2 July at Luna Leederville, Windsor Cinema Nedlands and Raine Square, Perth.

Lezly Herbert

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