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  • NYS Writers Institute

Albany Film Festival spotlight: Screening and discussion of "The Booksellers"

“The Booksellers” is a documentary for anyone who can still look at a book and see a dream, a magic teleportation device, an object that contains the world.”

– Variety

"If you love books, you'll love this documentary."

-- Los Angeles Times

"Charming. Beguiling. A Delightful homage."

-- NPR

Join us at the Albany Film for a screening of "The Booksellers," followed by a discussion with director D.W. Young and Cheryl McKeon of The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

Screening and discussion

12:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m., Lecture Center 1

University at Albany

Free and open to the public

About the film

Antiquarian booksellers are part scholar, part detective and part businessperson, and their personalities and knowledge are as broad as the material they handle. They also play an underappreciated yet essential role in preserving history. THE BOOKSELLERS takes viewers inside their small but fascinating world, populated by an assortment of obsessives, intellects, eccentrics and dreamers.

Executive produced by Parker Posey, the film features interviews with some of the most important dealers in the business, as well as prominent collectors, auctioneers, and writers such as Fran Lebowitz, Susan Orlean, Kevin Young and Gay Talese.

Both a loving celebration of book culture and a serious exploration of the future of the book, the film also examines technology’s impact on the trade, the importance of books as physical objects, the decline of used and rare bookstores, collecting obsessions, and the relentless hunt for the next great find.

And perhaps best of all, THE BOOKSELLERS offers a rare glimpse of many unique and remarkable objects, including the most expensive book ever sold, Da Vinci’s The Codex Leicester; handwritten Borges manuscripts; jeweled bindings; books bound in human flesh; essential early hip-hop documents; accounts of polar expeditions published with samples of real wooly mammoth fur; and many more.

About D.W. Young

D.W. Young has directed 11 documentaries and short films and worked as editor on more than 50 films. films have screened at festivals around the world including New York Film Festival, SXSW, Vancouver International Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, and many more. His features includes THE BOOKSELLERS (2019), THE HAPPY HOUSE (2013), NOT INTERESTED (2010), A HOLE IN A FENCE (2008).

'The Booksellers' Speaks Volumes About Old Books

And Those Who Love Them

Rage over living conditions in the prison escalated into a five-day rebellion that ended violently as state officials retook the prison. It was a defining moment in American history.

By Ella Taylor, March 5, 2020, NPR

As we hurtle closer to a time when little kids will look up from their tablets to inquire, "What was a book, Mommy?" much as they now ask, "What's a record player?," it may cheer you to learn, from a charming new documentary about bookselling, that while the middle-aged tend to play on Kindles these days, millennials are to be seen in droves reading print books on the New York subway. They're probably also the ones ordering "vintage" turntables, and they may be driving the encouraging current renaissance of independent bookstores serving cappuccino on the side, to lure us back from Amazon.

The books being bought, sold and read there, though, are unlikely to be the kind found at the New York Book Fair in a gorgeous old building on the city's Upper East Side: ancient tomes, some with curled and peeling pages, others gorgeously illuminated. The handlers of those books are the subject of D.W. Young's beguiling film, The Booksellers, about the world of New York antiquarian book dealers. They're a vanishing breed who, with some exceptions, regard their work more as consuming passion than as career.

‘The Booksellers’: Film Review

New York's rare book dealers discuss what they did for love in a wistful doc made for those who can still look at a book and see a magical object.

By Owen Gleiberman, October 8, 2019, Variety

D.W. Young, the director of “The Booksellers,” is a veteran film editor who leads us into grand and cozy old bookstores like the mysterious museums they are. He roots the movie in New York City (with a few forays to London), since that’s where the heart of American literary culture still resides, and he introduces us to a cast of characters who are captivating in their what-I-did-for-love devotion. They all have it; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be in the business.

Many of the stores go back to the ’20s, when 4th Ave., known as book row in Manhattan, had close to 50 bookstores, most of them owned and operated, in the words of Fran Lebowitz, by “dusty Jewish men who would get irritated if you wanted to buy a book.” That, says Lebowitz, is because they’d gone into the business mostly so they could sit around and read all day. The film takes us inside New York’s most fabled bookshop, the Argosy Book Store, founded in 1925 by Louis Cohen and now run by his daughters, Judith, Naomi, and Adina, who are in the rare position of being able to keep the dream alive because they own the six-story building that houses the store on E. 59th St.


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