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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2008
I really enjoyed reading this book from start to finish. It's small and manageable; not too long, not too short. Although described as a memoir, it's not all about the author but contains snippets of information and history that all booklovers will devour. It's quite nicely bound and is lightweight enough to carry around. All-in-all if you're a true bibliophile, then this book is for YOU.

Lewis Buzbee tells his story as a partial memoir; the history of his interest, and then love, of books is described in some detail. He writes about his career as a bookseller (although always as an employee - he never ran his own shop) and as a publishers rep, and he writes about his love of visiting bookshops of all shapes and sizes. In-between this narrative is neatly woven a basic potted history of bookselling, from ancient times, through the Gutenberg press, and on into the production of mass market paperbacks. I was particularly fascinated to read about the scandal surrounding the publication of James Joyce's 'Ulysses', and how the publishing of the book was taken on by one of Joyce's friends, the proprietor of the little but exclusive Shakespeare & Co. bookshop in Paris. Copies of the book then had to find their way into England and America where it had already been censored. A fascinating account.

I have a couple of very small quibbles about Buzbee's style. At one point early on he mentions shop-lifting a book as a teenager; he narrates this in such a way that it sounds as though this is considered acceptable practice, or at the very least is an activity which lots of people have done and can understand. This did shock me a bit and marred my enjoyment slightly. In a couple of places he does also go over a point he's already mentioned which is a little repetitive. However, tiny quibbles aside, I found this book a delightful journey from cover to cover and will be cherishing my copy for some years to come.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2008
A sparkling treat of a book - the kind that you just know, after a page or two, that you will treasure forever. With its neat hardback format and thick creamy pages, it even looks right.

Buzbee combines everything bookish here, beginning with his own 'calling' to the world of books, at 15, reading 'The Grapes of Wrath' at school, and moving through his time as a bookseller and publishing sales rep to his current role as reader, writer and compulsive book buyer. On top of the autobiographical elements, Buzbee traces the history of the book and bookselling, from papyrus scrolls to roadside stalls, through developing bookshops, censorship and printing to the e-commerce of today. To cap it off there is a wealth of personal insight, from the author's favourite bookshops across the globe, lovingly evoked and fairly evaluated, to the simple joys of books - their texture and smell, the pleasure of admiring shelves and stacks of books, the slow contentment of coffee and browsing...

A magical little tome, definitely worth not only reading, but buying, rereading and passing down to the next generation of bibliophiles.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2007
Can't remember where I heard about this volume but it sounded like I had to add it to my collection of books about books. Having read it I am so glad my local independent bookshop in England (sorry Amazon) managed to get hold of a copy. The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is a joy from beginning to end. Buzbee writes fondly and wittily of his subject and interweaves his personal experience as a bookseller and publisher's rep with a history of printing and the book in general. He must have done his background reading and manages to clarify aspects of the printed word of which I only had partial knowledge and does so in a style which is a pleasure to savour. The story of Ulysses and Shakespeare and Co., for example, I knew a bit about but now I know the whole story.

This book is a little gem and for me is the next best thing to emerge from America since Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris. And I must praise this book as object - its design and production values are among the highest. The typeset pages are a delight (well, apart from one or two typos!), the paper is perfect and I love the uncut fore-edge - not something that British publishers indulge in. The endpapers are yellow, of course, and the cover design inventive and witty.

I was a librarian for 10 years, an independent bookseller for 25, and I have been publishing and writing books since 1979. Although so many of your references are particular to the USA I too have shared many of your experiences and most definitely the same enthusiasms. Thankyou, Lewis Buzbee. If you read this and consider e-mailing me then please do - I have a book I should like to give you.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2009
Having read Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris and At Large and at Small I rated them on Buzbee's book appeared on my 'recommendations' list soon afterward. It was relatively inexpensive and well-reviewed, so I took the risk. I was very happy that I did so.

Buzbee's memoir and history detail his experience of book-selling in addition to describing the dynamics of selling books in the past, from Alexandrian scroll-sellers to modern day door-to-door Bible and encyclopedia salesmen (they seem always to be men, don't they?).

The book is easy to read, informative and well-written. It fills a space in my burgeoning collection of books about books. It is worth reading simply for the anecdotes that Buzbee recounts about the book industry. The research he put in to the history of books, book selling and publishing makes the book even more entertaining. I was happy Amazon's algorithms selected this book for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2011
Loved this book and read it practically in one sitting. The look and feel of the paper pages (thick and slightly ragged ) and the vast amount of information contained within kept me turning the pages. I learned lots about the book publishing industry, authors i did not know of and book titles i have since looked at buying. For any lover of reading and especially of books themselves, this is a real treat.
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on 17 August 2014
"The front counter of today's bookstore is where the cash register sits expectantly, and there's probably a phone as well..." - revelationary stuff. We go on to learn that, behind the desk, rubber bands and paper clips are also to be found. Kinokuniya Books - "in Japantown" - is "literally incomprehensible" to the author, who concedes that "...what most draws me are the books in Japanese, a language I neither speak nor read..." - frustrating, no doubt. Oh, by the way, the staff at City Lights tend to "sigh" at their customers and there's a food joint nearby wherein the waiters are kinda pushy and abrupt. Clunkily written and consistently boring; this title's best avoided.
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on 21 June 2013
I bought The Yellow-Lighed Bookshop after coming across the reviews on Amazon. I love books - reading them, the physical pleasure of the paper, the size and weight, the cover, the binding all combine give me imense pleasure! It's good to find someone else who feels the same and who has written such a lovely book. You must read it!
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on 5 January 2015
Everyone I know who's read this loves it. Well written and accessible. Highly recommend it.
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Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman (Paperback - 2 Mar. 2000)


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