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The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,462 ratings  ·  442 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 2002)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  2,462 ratings  ·  442 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-on-books
“November, a dark, rainy Tuesday afternoon. This is my ideal time to be in a bookstore. The shortened light of the afternoon and the idleness and hush of the hour gather everything close, the shelves and the books and the few other customers who graze head-bent in the narrow aisles. There's a clerk at the counter who stares out the front window, taking a breather before the evening rush. I've come to find a book.”

I spent from 1985-1997 working in the book industry. I started with Publisher's Bo
Lisa Vegan
Sep 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 mostly a
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just a few centuries ago, there were very few books and those available were usually found in the private libraries of wealthy aristocrats. A "book" meant detailed craftsmanship by monks who painstakingly created volumes of art, even for simple stories. Then came Gutenberg's printing press. Before, there were probably about 50,000 books in all of Europe. Fifty years after Gutenberg...there were more than 20 million books! Books can breed like rabbits.

The cover of this book first caught my eye in
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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. ...more
May 21, 2013 rated it liked it
This has some great quotes about books, especially in the beginning, and some interesting facts about the history of books and booksellers throughout the ages. Hard to believe that originally booksellers were not traditionally the quiet, reputable members of society we expect today!

Toward the end of the book, the author describes bookstores from around the world (admittedly mostly American) which I enjoyed reading about - and putting some shops on my mental “must-visit” list! Unfortunately there
Stephen P
Nov 17, 2012 rated it liked it
The book opens with the feel of a book in his hands, the pleasure of slipping into the waiting world beneath the print, the buying of more books than can be read, all leading to the incurable illness of "book lust." Buzbee's life has been spent as a reader. He has traveled through bookstores all over the country, especially the one around the corner from where he lives, sitting, reading and purchasing.I follow alongside as he works as an author selling his book, as a bookseller, a book rep. for ...more
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Uneven. There were sections I enjoyed, and others that quickly became dull. Overall more enjoyable than not, but not quite what I'd hoped for.

As the subtitle, "a memoir, a history," indicates, this is actually two sorts of books in one. Buzbee tells the story of his own life as a reader, from the pleasures of choosing just the right books to order from the Scholastic catalogs distributed periodically in elementary school (I particularly enjoyed this part, as I remember those flyers clearly and a
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jan 14, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: tbr-explode
Although this book is short, I can't bring myself to finish it. It's a book about bookshops and bookselling and it is so excruciatingly boring, I'm officially removing it from my TBR. (It's been on my earliest Goodreads TBR for years, but no longer.)
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
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Meliza by: Goodreads - TFG
Also posted in mecanism.

“What better place to enjoy the stretched hours than a bookstore.”

Some of my friends, those who don’t read, say that reading for me has already been an addiction. Reading this book reminded me that I am not alone, and thus gave me consent to continue plunging into this obsession. So I would just basically enumerate some of Buzbee’s thoughts that I could relate to. Hehe!

“In the bookstore, we may be alone among others, but we are connected to others.”

By just walking int
Oct 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 and
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: booksellers
I was looking forward to reading this, since I love memoirs, and this was one was all about books – what could be a more ideal mix? Well, let’s just say that it didn't blow me away and I didn’t care for the author’s writing style. It lacked warmth and felt a bit detached and unemotional. It just wasn’t all that interesting to me.
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-bookstores
[3+ stars] I really enjoyed reading the first 100 pages of this book, about the author's experiences with books and bookstores. The last part, about the bookstore business, felt dated, written over ten years ago.
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: Beverly
I had this book since March 2011 but only got interested to read it a few weeks back. I thought it was just another bookstore book and I still have 3,000+ books in my to-be-read (tbr) shelves so this book just did not pique my interest. However, we have a writing project for our book club, Pinoy Reads Pinoy Book called Tuklas Pahina. One time, I heard Bebang Siy mentioned about this book as a good one to review. One of the books that we are planning to release will include our members' reviews o ...more
JG (Introverted Reader)
Nov 09, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to JG (Introverted Reader) by: Jensownzoo
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
Book Concierge
The subtitle is: A Memoir, a History. That pretty much describes this book. Buzbee has been in the book business virtually his whole life, starting as a part-time clerk when he was a teen. He’s worked at the counter, in the back room and on the road (as a publisher’s rep). And he’s also visited bookshops around the world on his own – he can’t help himself.

I am a big fan of independent bookstores and have been a loyal customer of several in my city. It was one of those indies that first brought t
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comfort-reading
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
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: miscellaneous
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
Aug 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Deliciously delightful for all readers who live for those Rainy Tuesdays in a small bookshop. Necessary reading for all of here.
Jan C
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, books-on-books
Well, this had me up til 4 a.m. finishing. And I apparently hadn't picked it up for about a year.

But it was a good book. I love book stores. Of course, I have to go a ways now to find a decent book store. There is a bookstore a few blocks from here but, as I recall, the stuff they stock isn't for me, for the most part. They will order books for you. But, then, wouldn't I just go on line and do that for myself? But I can hop in the car, drive 25 miles and go to a Barnes & Noble. I've heard there
Oh, my heart. I knew from the first page--hell, the first paragraph--that this was a book with which I could fall in love. I have always been an avid reader and an insatiable book hoarder. Obviously, I know I'm here among fellow book lovers (because why else would you be here?), but I have never felt so seen and so understood as I have while reading through the pages of this little book. Every once in a while, I come across a special book--one that requires me to own a copy so that I can occasio ...more
Anna (noulimou)
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely little book that gives just enough of the history of various stages of books and bookshops to be fun and memorable, rather than an in-depth and probably hard to digest complete history. It is after all only 225 pages.

As someone that suffers greatly from book lust and is unable to pass on the opportunity to step into a bookshop on passing, I was able to find myself reflected within quite often.

Though written in 2006 many of the issues raised remain topics of discussion within t
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Small, attractive memoir that should be read by everyone in the book business. Mr. Buzbee was a bookseller, manager and sales rep and book lovers will enjoy most what he has to say. I particularly liked his descriptions of bookstores and his emotional experiences, but the history was interesting too. Just beware, at a short 216 pages, it is still about 20 pages too long. He ends the lovely little book with an utterly boring exploration or new technologies and the future of book selling. Most of ...more
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
This is a history/memoir. Lewis Buzbee has been a customer, an employee and a sales rep for bookstores. He talks about all these experiences in this book, along with a history of the book and booksellers.

I really enjoyed this. I especially found the history interesting. He intersperses his own experiences with the history information. The book was written in 2006, so e-books were really just taking off in popularity, so he only says a little bit about them, but not much. People who love booksto
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This interesting little book pays homage to booksellers from the small, cozy independent bookstores to the large chain bookstores to the massive city of books. A brief history of the establishment of venues where books can be purchased (originally bookstores were also lending libraries) is given along with random tidbits about books and printing. It was kind of a nostalgic read in a time period when so many bookstores are closing.
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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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