Jeff Deutsch at Foyles, Charing CrossIn Praise of Good Bookstores

Do we need bookstores in the twenty-first century? If so, what makes a good one? In this beautifully written book, Jeff Deutsch—the director of Chicago’s Seminary Co-op Bookstores, one of the finest bookstores in the world—pays loving tribute to one of our most important and endangered civic institutions. He considers how qualities like space, time, abundance, and community find expression in a good bookstore. Along the way, he also predicts—perhaps audaciously—a future in which the bookstore not only endures, but realizes its highest aspirations.

In exploring why good bookstores matter, Deutsch draws on his lifelong experience as a bookseller, but also his upbringing as an Orthodox Jew. This spiritual and cultural heritage instilled in him a reverence for reading, not as a means to a living, but as an essential part of a meaningful life. Central among Deutsch’s arguments for the necessity of bookstores is the incalculable value of browsing—since, when we are deep in the act of looking at the shelves, we move through space as though we are inside the mind itself, immersed in self-reflection.

In the age of one-click shopping, this is no ordinary defense of bookstores, but rather an urgent account of why they are essential places of discovery, refuge, and fulfillment that enrich the communities that are lucky enough to have them.

Having worked as a bookseller since 1994, Jeff Deutsch is the director of Chicago’s Seminary Co-op Bookstores, and believes that “good bookstore reflects its community, but an exceptional bookstore both creates and reflects its community”. Jeff’s ode to the trade, In Praise of Good Bookstores, offers eloquent and charming reflections on the social, cultural and intellectual contributions that bookshops can make, and their physical inimitability in an increasingly digital landscape.

Bill Samuel (nephew of Christina Foyle) has held many vocations in his lifetime, and stepped in to support the running of the Foyles business following the death of his aunt. His memoir – An Accidental Bookseller – offers readers a glimpse into the changing nature of Foyles through the decades.

James Daunt founded Daunt Books over thirty years ago, an iconic chain of bookshops which launched its own publishing arm in 2010. Currently Managing Director of Waterstones and CEO of Barnes & Noble, James has consistently been a vocal advocate for brick-and-mortar bookshops.

Jeff, Bill and James will be joined in discussion by chairperson Meryl Halls, who – as Managing Director of the Booksellers Association – has driven many bookselling initiatives in recent years, including the Independent Booksellers Forum and the Books Are My Bag campaign.

Promising personal anecdotes as well as probing debates about the value and status of bookselling through the years, join us for a panel event steeped in literature and the love of sharing it. This event will be followed by audience Q&A and a book signing.