Film Review: The Booksellers

STUDIO: Greenwich Entertainment | DIRECTOR/EDITOR: D.W. Young
RELEASE DATE: March 6, 2020
SPECS: NR | 99 min. | Documentary

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

If you’re the kind of person who views the content on as avidly as if it were actual porn, then The Booksellers is probably your kind of movie.

A behind-the-scenes look at the rarefied world of antiquarian-book buying and selling, primarily in New York City and London, The Booksellers is both elegy for a pre-digital Golden Age of books and a look at the future (one hopes there’s a future, at any rate) of the antiquarian-book business as it falls into the smartphone-clutching hands of a younger generation.  Executive produced by Parker Posey and directed by D.W. Young, the film features a range of commentators, including Fran Lebowitz, Susan Orlean, Gay Talese, and a community of dedicated book dealers and collectors.  Those hoping for something of a Rare Books 101 might be a bit disappointed; the film is rather short on actual old books and spends arguably more time than necessary exploring the specific personal backstories of individual book dealers.  It also takes a deep dive into how the relative ease with which contemporary collectors can find coveted items online—where once they had to rely on dedicated booksellers—is upending the business.  The whole “the internets changed my business model!” story is old and common enough at this point as to be largely inferable, so a bit less of that here might have been more, in the end.  Still, there’s no question that a great deal of love—for both the printed word itself and those who toil to preserve it—went into the making of this doc, which makes it a worthwhile ninety-ish minutes for any bibliophile.

About Gwen

Gwen Cooper is a movie and TV lover and the author of Homer's Odyssey (no, not the one you're thinking of).