Wednesday hours back

15 May

We continue to struggle a bit with our weekday hours, but now have volunteers reliably covering Wednesdays from Noon – 7 pm. We strive to be open Thursdays and Fridays as well, though it might make sense to call (225.662.5780) before making a special trip.

Saturdays we are open Noon – 7; Sundays Noon – 5.

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Predatory Pricing & the Crisis in Bookselling

27 Apr

A new research paper confirms that Amazon has long been engaged in a predatory pricing scheme in order to drive out competitors and force ecommerce onto its platform, where it controls search results (and so what consumers are offered), and charges third party hefty fees, which it recently increased dramatically. Amazon built its book business on two strategies, refusing to carry books unless publishers offered them at prices well below those available to bookstores and using the proceeds from stock offerings to sustain hundreds of millions of dollars in losses each year. Once they drove competitors out of the marketplace, they raised prices substantially. Today Amazon claims to be profitable (although the research suggests they are manipulating their book-keeping), but those profits come from its web services division and from fees charged to third-party sellers on its ecommerce platform. It might take 100 years for them to recoup the losses from their first ten years through selling books and other merchandise at their current margins on ecommerce. But somehow, investors have been willing to subsidize this predatory scheme and make Jeff Bezos a billionaire, gambling that in the long run the rest of us will foot the bill.

Bindlestiff Best-Sellers

15 Apr

These are our best-selling titles for the last month:

Marissa McClellan, The Food in Jars Kitchen: 140 Ways to Cook, Bake, Plate, and Share Your Homemade Pantry

Adrienne Maree Brown, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good 

Emily Rand, The Lost Property Office (picture book)

Joshua Button & Robyn Wells, Steve Goes to Carnival (picture book)

Maria Popova & Claudia Bedric, eds., A Velocity of Being: Letters to A Young Reader

David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

Shaun Tan, Tales from the Inner City (picture book)

Yasutaka Tsutsui, Paprika (novel)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Thing Around Your Neck (novel)

Jeanne Willis, The First Slodge (picture book)

Samin Nosrat, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

Penn Book Center closing end of May

8 Apr

We are saddened to pass along this news. The Book Center is a community institution, a fine bookstore, and its closing will leave the U Penn area served only by House of Our Own (another fine bookstore, but more narrowly focused) and Last Word…

Dear Penn Book Center customers,

We are writing to you with great sadness to say that we are closing the Penn Book Center at the end of May.

As many of you know, the explosive growth of online book sales at cut-rate prices has made selling books in brick and mortar stores a difficult proposition.

In response to this challenging environment, two years ago we shifted our focus away from course sales, dramatically increasing our in-store events, running book clubs, changing the store layout to focus on trade sales, and extending our hours.

We’re really proud of the changes we’ve made. We’ve had an amazing roster of store readings, one that reflects the strength and diversity of literary culture in Philadelphia. We’ve also been able to attract amazing visiting readers, including Rebecca Traister, Eve Ewing, Carol Anderson, and Eileen Myles.

We are so grateful to our brilliant events coordinator Erik Beranek and to our events partners Blue Stoop and the All But True Reading Series for making this happen. We love our new store layout, which features an expanded children’s section and more tables for browsing.

As happy as we are with these changes, however, they have not generated the sales we need to stay open.

We feel so lucky to have been able to purchase the Penn Book Center in 2005 from Achilles and Olga Nickles, who founded the store with Peter Nickles in 1962.

We believed and still believe that the Penn Book Center is a very unusual place, a product of its location in the intellectual hub that is University City. We’ve been able to carry books that you won’t find in many bookstores, but which appeal to the students, professors, and researchers surrounding us. Being in the midst of all this intellectual ferment has shaped our inventory, and we have treasured the intellectual exchanges we’ve had with our wonderful customers. We have learned so much from you, and we are very grateful for your support over the years.

We can’t say enough about our booksellers, who have done such a fantastic job of welcoming customers to the store and placing just the right book in people’s hands. We are especially grateful to head bookseller James Gleeson for his incredible knowledge of books and his unfailingly cheerful presence behind the counter.

We’ll be having events through the end of May. Towards the end of April, we will begin marking down our stock so there will be lots of great deals. We hope you’ll take the opportunity to stop in and say goodbye in the next few months.

Sincerely,
Ashley Montague and Michael Row
Owners

Graphic Novels relating to Socialism

11 Mar

We are in the process of adding guides to books in a variety of areas to our website. This is the first of a series of subject guides to graphic novels compiled by members of our community. We have several of these titles in stock, and will do a window display in mid-April, leading up to May Day.

George Orwell Illustrated. David Smith (Author); Mike Mosher (Illustrator), Haymarket Books, 2018.

George Orwell remains more vividly etched in the public imagination thanks to Animal Farm and the unforgettable Nineteen Eighty-Four– and thanks, as well, to the persisting power of the logic-defying authoritarianism Orwell warned us about. Revised and expanded from Orwell for Beginners, this update includes new discoveries—including Orwell’s human rights manifesto coauthored with Bertrand Russell and Arthur Koestler—that help us better understand the worldview behind the words. In part two of this book, Planet Orwell, Orwell’s manifesto appears here for the first time, along with fresh biographical and literary insights.

Now is the Time of Monsters: A Graphic Discourse on Predatory Capitalism. World War 3 Collective (Editor), AK Press, 2018.

This new collection of anticapitalist political comics from various cartoonists explores and exposes the predatory logic that underpins our economy, politics, justice system, and human relations. From Wall Street to billionaire far-right funders like the Mercer and Koch families to vile creatures like Larry Nassar and Harvey Weinstein, this collection indicts them all in their war against us.

The Antifa Comic Book: 100 Years of Fascism and Antifa Movements. Gord Hill (Author); Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018.

The shocking images of neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville, North Carolina, in the summer of 2017 linger, but so do those of the passionate protestors who risked their lives to do the right thing. Gord Hill looks at the history of fascism over the last hundred years, and the concurrent antifa movements that work fastidiously to topple it.

The Beast: Making a Living on a Dying Planet. Hugh Goldring (Author); Nicole Marie Burton (Illustrator); Patrick McCurdy (Research), Ad Astra Press, 2018.

What does it mean to lie for a living? This original graphic novel explores the role advertising has played in shaping our public ideas about oil. Set just south of the Alberta Tar Sands in Edmonton, The Beast tells the story of two creative millennials who have come to cash in on the “oil boom.”  

Len, A Lawyer in History. A Graphic Biography of Radical Attorney Leonard Weinglass. Seth Tobocman (Author & Illustrator); Paul Buhle (Editor); Michael Smith (Editor), AK Press, 2016.

For half a century, criminal defense lawyer Leonard Weinglass defended a who’s who of the twentieth-century left in some of America’s most spectacular trials. His clients have included SDS, the Chicago Seven, Daniel Ellsberg, Abbie Hoffman, and Mumia Abu-Jamal, among many others. Weinglass was known for his humility, his common touch, his ability to work collectively, his kindness, and his attention to detail.

Fight the Power! A Visual History of Protest Among the English Speaking Peoples. Sean Michael Wilson (Author); Benjamin Dickson (Author), Seven Stories, 2013.

This graphic narrative that explains how ordinary people have fought against oppression across time. Most history films from Hollywood  have reduced these issues to just: 1. Romance, 2. Great leaders, and 3. Violence for the sake of it. Rather, Fight the Power is more about those other folks involved in history—the 99%! According to Gandhi, the Four Stages of Protest are as follows: First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win!

In Fight the Power!, the creators show how this process has been played out again and again throughout history–and has slowly but surely led to hard-won rights for the people along the way. Content focuses on English-speaking nations.

Parecomic: The Story of Michael Albert and Participatory Economics. Sean Michael Wilson (Author); Carl Thompson (Illustrator); Noam Chomsky (Introduction). 7 Stories Press, 2013.

Parecomic is a graphic novel about something that affects us all: the system we live in–what’s wrong with it, and how we might be able change it for the better. Written by Sean Michael Wilson, and drawn by Carl Thompson, Parecomic is about Michael Albert–the visionary behind “participatory economics”–and his life’s struggle as a left-wing activist. Proposed as an alternative to capitalism, participatory economics (parecon, for short) values equity, solidarity, diversity, and participatory self-management. In Albert’s vision, workers and consumers councils use self-managed decision-making, balanced job complexes, renumeration according to duration, intensity, and onerousness of socially valued labor; and participatory planning.

Parecomic will guide readers through this anarchist-influenced economic system, The recent upsurge in popular protest in the US and around the world shows that people are not happy with the state of capitalism. The Occupy movement, particularly, makes plain the desire for a better system, a model that will work for the 99%, not just the 1%. Parecon is one such model, and Parecomic brings this to life in illustrated form.

Anti-Capitalism. Ezequiel Adamovsky (Author); Ilustradores Unidos (Illustrations). Seven Stories, 2011.

In Anti-Capitalism, activist and scholar Ezequiel Adamovsky tells the story of the long-standing effort to build a better world, one without an abusive system at its heart. Backed up by arresting, lucid images from the radical artist group United Illustrators, Adamovsky details the struggle against rising corporate power, as that struggle unfolds in the halls of academia, in the pages of radical newspapers, and in the jungles and the streets. From Marx through the Battle of Seattle and beyond, Adamovsky traces the beliefs and politics of the major figures in the anticapitalist tradition and explores modern experiments in building different ways of living, in the process providing an indispensable primer for anyone interested in finding alternatives to the so-called “best system we have”—and anyone interested in joining the fight.

Anarchy Comics: The Complete Collection. Jan Kinney (Editor), PM Press, 2012.

Reviving an iconic comic series originally published from 1978 to 1986 (one of them still available through us, actually), this exclusive collection brings together the four issues of Anarchy Comics, the underground comic that melded anarchist politics with a punk sensibility, producing a riveting mix of satire, revolt, and artistic experimentation. The anthology features previously unpublished work by Jay Kinney and Sharon Rudahl, along with a detailed introduction by Kinney that traces the history of the comic he founded and provides entertaining anecdotes about the process of herding an international crowd of anarchistic writers. Reintroducing the long-out-of-print underground comic that inspired its readers and united a subculture, this collection includes all thirty original contributors from across the globe, including Clifford Harper, Donald Rooum, Gary Panter, Melinda Gebbie, and Steve Stiles, among other talented writers and illustrators.

The Anti-Capitalist Resistance Comic Book. Gord Hill (Author). Arsenal Pulp Press, 2012.

In recent years the world has borne witness to numerous confrontations, many of them violent, between protesters and authorities at pivotal gatherings of the world’s political and economic leaders. While police and the media are quick to paint participants as anarchistic thugs, accurate accounts of their subsequent treatment at the hands of authorities often go untold—as well as the myriad stories of corporate and government corruption, greed, exploitation, and abuse of power that inspired such protests in the first place. In this startling, politically astute graphic novel, Gord Hill (author of the ever-popular The 500 Years of Resistance Comic Book) documents the history of capitalism as well as anti-capitalist and anti-globalization movements around the world, from the 1999 “Battle of Seattle” against the World Trade Organization to the Toronto G20 summit in 2010. The dramatic accounts trace the global origins of public protests against those in power, then depict recent events based on eyewitness testimony; they go far to contradict the myths of violence perpetrated by authorities, and instead paint a vivid and historically accurate picture of activists who bring the crimes of governments and multinationals to the world’s attention. As the “Occupy” movements around the world unfold, The Anti-Capitalist Resistance Comic Book is a deft, eye-opening look at the new class warfare, and those brave enough to wage the battle.

Work: Capitalism. Economics. Resistance. Crimethinc (Author), Crimethinc, 2011.

A description and diagram that outline an analysis of capitalism: what it is, how it works, how we might dis-mantle it. And the book, the diagram, and the analysis are all outgrowths of something more: a movement of people determined to fight it. So this book isn’t just an attempt to describe reality but also a tool with which to change it.

Herbert Marcuse: Philosopher of Utopia. Thorkelson, Nick. City Lights. 2019. ed. by Paul Buhle & Andrew T. Lamas.

from Library Journal: Cartoonist Thorkelson presents the life of philosopher Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979), a German émigré who escaped the Nazi regime and fled to the United States and taught at a variety of universities. Marcuse was a student of philosopher Martin Heidegger and worked to advance a synthesis of Hegel and Marx that pushed for liberation from the crushing intellectual and spiritual domination of capitalism. … Marcuse believed in a life of play and joy, and Thorkelson’s somewhat cartoonish style befits this aspect despite the serious nature of the topic. … Thorkelson further draws parallels with present-day left-wing concerns, enhancing the overall appeal for like-minded readers, assuming some familiarity with the personalities and philosophies of the intellectual left from the 1930s to the 1980s.

Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman, by Sharon Rudahl. The New Press, 2007.

Born in Russia in 1869 when women, especially Jewish women, were more or less downtrodden, Goldman followed her sisters to America, where she became radicalized by the 1886 Haymarket bombing in Chicago. She crammed into the rest of her life more than a half-century of nearly nonstop protesting, fiery speechmaking, and organizing across North America and Europe, and led an unconventional personal life as well. Rudahl’s lively artwork is all cramped frames and swirling action.

Wobblies!: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World, edited by Paul Buhle & Nicole Schulman. Verso, 2005.

The Industrial Workers of the World, whose members were nicknamed “Wobblies,” heavily influenced the labor movement in the early 20th century and have relevance today. They fought for equality and safe working conditions, with ties to women’s rights and socialism. This history comes to life through nonfiction comics and essays by Peter Kuper, Harvey Pekar, and other cartoonists well known for their sympathies for working people and underclass issues. It’s a saga of activists, riots, strikes, lynchings, and executions told through energetic and emotional, sometimes crude art.

Studs Terkel’s Working: A Graphic Adaptation, adapted by Harvey Pekar. The New Press, 2009.

Terkel’s bestselling 1974 anthology of oral histories was originally titled Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. A subset of these oral histories–from a farmworker, barber, hooker, garbage man, and others–is here adapted into comics by a variety of artists who have created other work about progressive causes.

Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg, by Kate Evans. Verso, 2015.

A strong-willed German revolutionary and giant of the political left, Rosa Luxemburg led a productive and creative life both politically and personally. Opposing World War I, she was murdered as a dangerous rebel against Germany’s nationalist cause.

Eugene V. Debs: A Graphic Biography, by Paul Buhle, Steve Max, & Noah Van Sciver. Verso, 2019.

Eugene Victor Debs led the Socialist Party in the early twentieth-century to federal and state office across the U.S., helped to pioneer a fighting union politics that organized all workers, and became a beloved figurehead of American radicalism. This graphic biography was published in collaboration with the Democratic Socialists of America.

The Instinct for Cooperation: A Graphic Novel Conversation with Noam Chomsky & Jeffrey Wilson. Seven Stories Press, 2018.

Wilson brings Chomsky’s activist political analysis to bear on real people’s stories on the frontlines of America’s struggle for economic justice and human dignity. These real-life stories are balanced with conversations that Wilson had with Chomsky on how best to understand them. Chomsky has built a “reputation as a political dissident … and usually identifies as an anarcho-syndicalist or a libertarian socialist.”

Bernie, by Ted Rall. Seven Stories Press, 2017.

Explains both the early life and political rise of Bernie Sanders, and also describes the broader political shift that made it possible for a Jewish socialist to rally voters and become a real presidential contender. Rall interviewed Sanders at length, and delves deep into his background. The cartoonist is frank in supporting Sanders, making this an unapologetically partisan primer on a strong voice from the left to counter the Democrats’ rightward shift.

Sartre for Beginners, by Donald D. Palmer. For Beginners, 2007.

The multifaceted Jean Paul Sartre was a member of the French underground during WWII, a novelist, a playwright, and a major influence in French political and intellectual life. An opening biographical section introduces the significant events of his life. The bulk of the work examines Sartre’s philosophical approaches, including his writings about consciousness, freedom, responsibility, absurdity, “bad faith,” authenticity, and the hellish confrontation with other people. Ideas from Sartre’s additional fictional and dramatic works are also addressed, more briefly.

Introducing Sartre: A Graphic Guide, by Philip Thody & Howard Reed. Icon Books, 2005.

Between the end of World War II in 1945 and his death in 1980, Jean-Paul Sartre was one of the best-known living philosophers. Introducing Sartre summarized his life and explains the basic ideas inspiring his world view, paying particular attention to his ideas on freedom, literature, Marxism, and inequality. Overall, the content tends towards heavy on biography and light on philosophy.

Marxism: A Graphic Guide, by Rupert Woodfin, Alex Locascio, & Oscar Zarate. Icon Books, 2018.

Traces the story of Marx’s original philosophy, from its roots in 19th-century European thinkers like Hegel, to its influence on modern-day culture. It looks at Marxism’s Russian disciples, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin, who forged a ruthless, dogmatic Communism, and the alternative Marxist approaches of Gramsci, the Frankfurt School of critical theory and the structuralist Marxism of Althusser in the 1960s. Argues that Marxism remains a powerful set of ideas, even today.

Marx, by Corinne Maier & Anne Simon. Nobrow, 2014.

A graphic novel biography of Karl Marx that offers an intricately illustrated window into his personal travails and career. Presents Marx’s early years, his career highs and lows, his complex personal life, and how his works affected history. The illustrations help to explain concepts, such as capitalism, labor relations, economics, and communism. Contains quotes and references from texts written by Marx and his colleague, Friedrich Engels.

Che: A Revolutionary Life, by Jon Lee Anderson & José Hernández. Penguin, 2018.

Booklist:  From [Che’s] comfortable Argentine birth, medical training, and peripatetic commitment to fighting capitalist U.S. imperialism to his assassination, Anderson and Hernández deftly balance Che’s revolutionary idealism with his failures in leadership, his arrogance, and his familial inadequacies.

Library Journal: Gorgeously illustrated and engrossing, Guevara’s life makes for both a breathtaking adventure story and a sobering history that readers are sure to embrace with enthusiasm

Prisoner 155: Simón Radowitzky, by Agustín Comotto. AK Press, 2018.

Radowitzky’s tumultuous life begins with his immigration from Ukraine to Argentina, followed by his assassination of Colonel Falcon (who presided over the slaughter of 100 workers) in 1909. Banished to a penal colony, he escaped, was recaptured and tortured, serving a total of twenty years. Upon release he joined the Spanish Revolution, after which he decamped for Mexico, where he died in 1956 while employed at a toy factory.

The Communist Manifesto: A Graphic Novel, by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, & Martin Rowson. SelfMadeHero, 2018.

Published in 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ Manifesto for the Communist Party was at once a powerful critique of capitalism and a radical call to arms, and remains the most incisive introduction to the ideas of Communism and the most lucid explanation of its aims. Rowson is an editorial cartoonist with The Guardian.

Marxism: A Graphic History, by Rupert Woodfin & Oscar Zarate. Icon Books, 2018.

Karl Marx was one of the most influential thinkers of the late 19th century, inspiring revolutions and colossal political upheavals that have radically transformed the lives of millions of people and the geopolitical map of the entire world. This account traces the story of Marx’s original philosophy, from its roots in 19th-century European thinkers like Hegel, to its influence on modern-day culture.

Ginger Goodwin: A Worker’s Friend, by Laura Ellyn. Between the Lines, 2016.

Labor activist and martyr Albert “Ginger” Goodwin spent his life, work, and death in the mining communities of Cumberland and Trail, British Columbia. This account draws on local history and explores the ways the history of labor organizing affects contemporary movements.

Trotsky: A Graphic Biography, by Rick Geary. Hill & Wang, 2009.

A principle architect and hero of the Russian Revolution, then a pariah and exile under Stalin, Trotsky set up a world conflict that lasted through the twentieth century. Geary leads readers chronologically through Trotsky’s electric career until his assassination in exile.

Literary Salon Thursday, Jan. 24

18 Jan

Four Philly authors will read at the Dock Street Cannery Thursday, in a varied program including works of fiction and science history. We have three of their books on hand at Bindlestiff.

http://www.dockstreetbeer.com/event-listings/prose-reading-open-mic-for-writers-dock-street-cannery-january

Winter hours

13 Jan

Bindlestiff hours will be a bit irregular for the next few weeks as we train some new volunteers, rejigger work schedules, and do some much-needed work in the basement (which doesn’t require closing, but it’s hard for the person doing it to staff at the same time).

We endeavor to be open Wednesday through Sunday, from Noon to 7 pm except on Sundays, when we close at 5. However, we do not have volunteers available for all of those hours, and many shifts are being scheduled on a day-by-day basis. We can pretty much guarantee that we will be open Thursdays from Noon to 3:30 p.m. and Saturdays from Noon to 7:00 p.m. We expect to be open more often than not on the other days for at least a part of our normal hours.

If you’re contemplating a special trip, perhaps it would be a good idea to phone first, at 215.662.5780. (But you shouldn’t necessarily expect to be phoned back quickly if you leave a voicemail; we’re not all that good at checking that.) Otherwise, if you’re walking by and we’re open, perhaps that would be a good time to pop in.