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The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  1,413 ratings  ·  280 reviews
In The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, Buzbee, a former bookseller and sales representative, celebrates the unique experience of the bookstore--the smell and touch of books, getting lost in the deep canyons of shelves, and the silent community of readers. He shares his passion for books, which began with ordering through The Weekly Reader in grade school. Interwoven throughout is...more
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Graywolf Press (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
I spent from 1985-1997 working in the book industry. I started with Publisher's Book Outlet in Phoenix, the farthest flung bookstore for Southern based Anderson News Company. One the owners liked to vacation in Arizona so he opened a store there; I'm sure as a way to write off his vacation time on his taxes. I then worked for Bookman's Used Books based out of Tucson. I had a short stint as a remainder company rep with Roy P. Jenson out of New Jersey. I then ended my book career with Green Apple...more
A super book for all true book lovers. It relates the history of bookshops (of all sizes), the publishing industry, the role of the web, on-demand publishing, and the roles played by publishers, sellers, agents, reps, agents & authors. The best part is that Mr Buzbee shares his serious analysis and understanding of WHY we love bookshops, and why they will endure.
A truly delightful little book for those who find it impossible to pass up a bookshop without entering - and once inside always discover some new (or not-so-new) gem of a book to lust after.

An added bonus is the well written history of the book trade, paper, printing, publishing and why independent bookshops will always have a place among the Amazon.coms, Barnes & Nobles, and Costcos.

I also appreciated the look and feel of this pretty little paperback - the quality of the paper, the typeface...more
Lisa Vegan
Nov 21, 2008 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who is fond of bookstores, those who enjoy books & the history of book selling
Every time I read about an author’s account of books & reading, I now compare them with Anne Fadiman’s book Ex Libris and they simply never live up to her work, an unfair assessment perhaps since I love Fadiman’s book so much.

However, this is a special book too. It’s a seemingly effortless mesh of autobiography and biography and history of bookstores. He might not write the soaringly beautiful prose of Fadiman but he writes well and his focus is narrower and just as interesting; this is most...more
I so desperately want to find a good read in common with my Goodreads buds Darlene and John. Unfortunately, this is not it.

Our likes are varied and disparate. So when I come across one that had the potential this one did, I was anxious to read it. I felt so confident that it got a priority move to the top of my to-read list.

The combination of love for and the history of bookstores along with the book publishing industry seemed like a slam duck to me. Those are the topics that made this an excit...more
This wonderful little book was written by Lewis Buzbee and if you are like me and you love books ABOUT books and reading and bookstores, you will enjoy this book. You could say that mr. Buzbee is an authority on all things related to books. Besides being a lifelong voracious reader, he also spent most of his adult life working in bookstores in California. And he also worked for years as a publisher's sales rep... explaining that to be a good sales rep, he needed to know each bookstore and book s...more
This book vividly captures the book lover’s inner thoughts as he steps into a bookshop, a place to be “alone among others.” It gives an interesting history of the book, the bookshop and its cousin, the coffeehouse, and includes a stirring account of how James Joyce’s Ulysses got published and how the booksellers were affected by the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie. A delightful read, it gives the book geek a heads-up on the bookstores to visit in the US and Europe, and posits the likely futu...more
Here is a book that speaks to all booklovers. We band of brothers and sisters who have experienced the special joys and satisfaction of browsing the shelves of many a bookstore in search of those books that have tickled our fancies, piqued our curiosity, and commanded our interest.

The author offers an fascinating view into the history and evolution of books and bookstores throughout the world. He also shares with the reader his development from grade school into a passionate booklover who later...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Lewis Buzbee has worked around books his entire life. He worked at the local bookstore through school, and then he worked as a publisher's rep, and I can't even remember what else. This slim, satisfying volume is almost a collection of essays about his thoughts on bookstores, books, readers, and publishing.

I believe I was most excited by the first chapter of this book, "Alone Among Others." I might have things slightly confused, but I believe this was the chapter where the author spelled out th...more
Buzbee's heart is in the right place, but his writing skills and treatment of history do not quite match his love of bookshops. In trying to elevate bookshops, he falls into cliched language and clumsily executed metaphors. He also juxtaposes episodes from the history of bookselling with his own recollections. This is meant to provide reading variety while educating the lay reader, but the historical anecdotes are treated without rigour (sadly, this is what passes for "accessibility" these days)...more
I read this book in a day. One blissful day. I perused the reviews before I bought it and many were along the lines of "That's exactly how I feel," or "This could have been written just for me."

I am no different.

I too was caught up in the anonymous camaraderie of "The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop", delighted to be alone together with other book-lusters (the term 'bibliophile' sounds so posh and really just doesn't cut it) practically giddy at how easily it is to relate to Buzbee, how delightful to s...more
A bookshops is an oasis in which we engage "in the free and unrestricted congress of ideas". A place where we can be alone with everybody else. And the time goes as pleasantly-paced as we want. Where literary serendipities, such as overhearing other book-lusters, can spark interest in new authors or books.

This is the mental picture I have while going through this delightful book. I am quite sure I share it with the author. It did across my mind to apply for weekend job at local bookstores just...more
Maria M. Elmvang
A lovely and charming memoir. If you love not just reading books, but shopping for them as well and consider browsing through bookshops a worthwhile passtime, even if you don't purchase anything, then this is the book for you. It was filled with fun anecdotes and made me want to rush out and find the nearest bookshop, just to go browsing through it. Unfortunately Danish bookstores (at least the chain stores) aren't nearly as charming as those I've encountered in other countries, so good thing we...more
Anyone who loves bookstores and books will love this fascinating memoir of bookseller and author Lewis Buzbee. Bookselling is only part of the adventure of loving books that Buzbee shares. You will find yourself nodding your head in agreement with his descriptions and opinions while learning some interesting information about books, printing, and the business of selling books.
Aug 19, 2007 John rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: absolutely every person on this site
Shelves: bio-and-memoir
One of my better reads for the year so far. Focuses on Buzbee's career in the book biz, with historical background on publishing in general. Strikes just the right balance between educational and general-interest.
Lewis Buzbee's The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is called both a memoir and a history. It is both. It's

the story of his love affair with books and bookstores. It's also a history of printing, publishing, and bookselling. Or, as he says, it "extols the virtues of the brick-and-mortar bookstore".

As someone who loves the world of books, bookstores and libraries, there are passages I loved. Upon entering a bookstore, he says, "I can't help but feel the possibility of the universe unfolding a little, onc...more
Lucy Hastings
I LOVED this book. For those that like to seek retreat into bookshops to calm down or relax, or to flick through books you know, to be reunited with favourite chapters or characters, for those who spend their time seeking out independent bookshops, and taking pleasure in buying a book there that you know you could get cheaper online, then this is for you.

The author worked in a number of independent bookshops in San Fransisco writes a memoir to the bookshop. However each chapter sandwiched with a...more
I really enjoyed The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History by Lewis Buzbee although not quite as much as I'd thought I would. The first half of the book I zipped through, loving every word. Then suddenly I got a little bored; I just felt that I'd had enough. So after that, I began picking through, reading different sections, not necessarily in order (luckily this was from the library, not a Kindle-my biggest problem with kindle is that I can't browse the way I like to).

This was a good mov...more
Apr 08, 2011 Kaci added it
Oh man. I don't even know how to begin describing this book. First, let me say that every book-lover, book enthusiast, every person that is literally passionate about books, should read this book. I was taking notes out of this book, there so many good nuggets to take away for me personally, for my library, and for the future of my sweet baby E's reading. It covers a wide variety of subjects within the arena of books, what books inspired the author throughout his life, how the bookstore industry...more
I love books. Obviously. And I equally love books about books. Buzbee’s slender volume The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is one of these gems. It alternates between being a memoir about Buzbee’s career as a book lover and seller, and a brief history of the book, booksellers, and publishers. Along the way, Buzbee sheds light on the Elizabethan origins of the long-held love affair between the coffeeshop and the bookstore (epitomized today by the Starbucks cafes within most Barnes & Nobles), the impo...more
"Take someone who like to read; give her a comfy place to do so and ample time for doing it; add one good book, and then more; stand back"

"......part of the pleasure in visiting a bookstore, the knowledge that the simplest things do endure. The bookstore, the most common bookstore, unhyped and overlooked in our dazzling and dangerous world, remains essentially the same: the window of books that catches your eyes the front door like a novels's cover opened with great anticipation, the rows and sh...more
Feb 16, 2012 Sam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
This has to be one of the best books I have ever read.

I'm a sucker for historical material and I'm now becoming enamoured with memoirs too; what Buzbee delivers is tour de force in both history and memoir.

I have a feeling that some of the books on the history of books that I intend to read are going to be laborious at some stage but contrary to this assumption, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop dips in and out of the progression of books, booksellers and bookstore with a narrative ease that has turn...more
A marvelous book for anyone who enjoys reading books, browsing in bookstores (or libraries), or buying/owning books. Buzbee worked in the book field for quite a long time and shares his love of the industry and its history. I found it simply delightful!

Some of his prose re book purchasing described my mental processes almost EXACTLY:

For the last several days I've had the sudden and general urge to buy a new book. I've stopped off at a few bookstores around the city, and while I've looked at hund...more
I almost had to fight with Buzbee in the first chapter of this book. He describes bookstores as places to go to browse (no objection yet), even to sit down and read (no particular objection here either), and to look for particular pieces of information. Wait! Here I object: isn't that what the library is for? Of course, I have my biases (being a librarian) and he has his (being a bookseller).

Having moved on from the first chapter, I was glad I did. I found this a delightful book. It truly is bot...more
Sarah Sammis
I borrowed The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop from a dear friend and savored the experience of reading it over the course of a week. It is part memoir and part love letter to books and the publishing industry.

Lewis Buzbee is a Bay Area native. He was born and raised in San Jose about the same time my mother was growing up in the Bay Area. Many of the places he describes are places I've heard about from relatives or visited as a child on the trips I took to the south Bay with my grandmother.

The Yellow-L...more
I loved this book about books and book geeks.

It's a bit of biography, in that Buzbee tells of the stores he's worked and visited.

It's a bit of short story because each section deals with a particular facet of books and bookstores.

I would read and think "Yeah! I know what you're talking about. I have books I feel that way about!"

I read more and started writing down names of bookstores to visit (I'm sorry The Book Loft in Columbus, Ohio, wasn't amont the ones he talked about).

Definitely a book I'...more
In this book, Lewis Buzbee, the author, describes the shelves of books as "seductive glimpses of the lives that dwelled between their covers" and he goes on to say "this was more than retail, this was pleasure, both in tangible and sensual".

Now that is book lust! This entire book is dedicated to the love of reading, all aspects of the book. I really enjoyed the terminology, the history of the book, how and when books were first printed, from the shelving of the book, to the sale of the book. The...more
Feb 01, 2010 Margaret rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Moi
Okay, I'll admit that I'm a fool for books about books and reading. Still, I really loved this one and found the author a kindred spirit. Buzbee weaves together anecdotes from his past as a bookstore clerk, sales rep, and general book lover with the history of bookstores themselves and produces a beautiful, fascinating book, full of the joy of reading.

I'm especially intrigued by his notion that the future of independent bookstores may depend on specialization, since owning a small specialty book...more
I loved this book! If I felt a keen connction to the author as he described the charms and seduction of the bookstore. I too, have to browse in any and all bookshops I encounter during my day. It matters not if I'm doing errands in my own neighbourhood or if I'm halfway around the world. If there is a book store nearby, I can almost predict when I'll be inside it.

I learned to read early and as an only child in the remote countryside, books and stories provided entertainment and education. I had...more
This little book is one I had to own having read a library copy. I still give it five stars for its historical interest into the life of a bookseller. It draws you in slowly but completely. You come away from it with a sigh of contentment. It makes me desire to venture into every independent book shop , used and new, in my own town; to search out treasures for myself. I will reread this book every few years and marvel again at the miracle that is the printed word.
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Lewis Buzbee is a fourth generation California native who began writing at the age of 15, after reading the first chapter of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Since then he’s been a dishwasher, a bookseller, a publisher, a caterer, a bartender, and a teacher of writing. He and his wife, the poet Julie Bruck, live with their daughter Maddy in San Francisco, just half a block from Golden Gate Pa...more
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“How do you press a wildflower into the pages of an e-book?” 34 likes
“The books of our childhood offer a vivid door to our own pasts, and not necessarily for the stories we read there, but for the memories of where we were and who we were when we were reading them; to remember a book is to remember the child who read that book.” 28 likes
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