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2015 Bookseller Resource Guide
Dear Reader

The Reading Life

Fine Books and Collections editor Ann J. Loftin
Editor Ann J. Loftin

This month, in recognition of New York’s 49th annual Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) fair, we’re dwelling on the city where people still value the printed word. I could write a book—I should’ve written a book—on the writing life in New York. I lived as a writer in Greenwich Village, the subject of Nicole Pasulka’s featured essay, for most of 15 years. I lived in a railroad tenement apartment, a fifth-floor walkup, with a grimy little bathroom looking out onto an airshaft. (This was an improvement over my friends’ Little Italy apartments, where one bathed in the kitchen sink.) I had messed around in grad school at Columbia University for longer than I could afford, and I had to get a job. But full-time editorial jobs were hard to come by in the late 1970s, whereas freelance jobs could be had for the asking, leaving plenty of time for patrolling the city’s bookstores—the Strand, Gotham Book Mart, Books & Company (founded in 1977 by IBM heiress Jeannette Watson), and the great, grimy Coliseum Books off Columbus Circle. The chains didn’t exist yet. Wherever you went in the city, independent bookstores teemed with readers and writers.

I wrote whatever I could to make my $250 a month rent. I wrote reviews of screenplays for Jane Fonda’s film company, IPC. I wrote essays about Matthew Arnold, when not fetching jelly doughnuts in Times Square for my notoriously coked-up boss, the late Saturday Night Live writer Michael O’Donoghue. I wrote film treatments for the son of the great movie director Emeric Pressburger. I wrote short stories for long-gone literary magazines; poems, for…well, for my boyfriends. I wrote articles about the winners of the New York Lottery celebrating at TGIF; about some Presidents’ wives holding séances in the White House; about corporate executives buying islands somewhere to the south of me. I was living Saul Steinberg’s New Yorker cartoon of Manhattan, a place where the world ends just shy of New Jersey. My newfound hometown was—and, I think, will always be—a feverish, moody place, perfectly captured by John Rosenthal’s photographs, shown in this issue.

Last time I checked I was not a famous writer, but all of the above is simply to illustrate that the authors of rare books are born every day. They move to New York and start getting published. Their names are Dylan Thomas, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Henry James, Michael Cunningham, Nicole Pasulka. They ask one thing only of you, dear reader.

Keep reading.

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