ARTIST STATEMENT: THE LAST BOOKSTORES
The Last Bookstores documents America’s remaining independent bookstores and the people behind their survival and potential comeback. Why do they persist after the vast majority of independents folded from 1992–2010 in the face of cutthroat competition from chain superstores and Amazon? What would we lose without them?
The booksellers I met are passionately committed to enriching their local communities and keeping the flame of literary culture alive. Far from giving up, they’re fighting back. And the latest statistics show they just might be winning: more stores are now opening than closing for the first time in 20 years. Grassroots “Buy Local” campaigns—many of which were founded by bookstores on the principle that a dollar spent at an independent business is more likely to stimulate the local economy than a dollar spent at a competing national chain or online store—are gaining momentum. Could this be the dawn of a remarkable comeback? Who will curate and control the distribution of literature in the future?
I photographed this project exclusively on large and medium-format film—a slow but superlative craft that has largely been replaced by faster, easier, and less expensive digital alternatives. Two of the color films I used to shoot these images were discontinued partway through the project, necessitating a mix of color and b&w film for the remainder.