February 10, 2010

Patti Smith and Scribner's Bookstore

Patti Smith has been making the talkshow rounds promoting her book/memoir "Just Kids".  One of my favorite blogs, Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, posted a selection of the book which talks about her day job at the famous Scribner's Bookstore. Charles Scribner Sons (the official name of the company) was a veritable temple to books that was run by the publisher of the same name. Scribner's imprint is notable for debuting early 20th century literary titans like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.  

The Beaux Arts building which housed the store and the publisher is still there, on Fifth Avenue and 48th though now it sells Sephora cosmetics.  The bookstore closed in 1989 and the imprint was absorbed by Simon & Schuster soon afterwards.  Fortunately the building is in great condition so you can almost imagine what the bookstore must have been like.  Or you can just have Patti Smith tell you all about it:
"Each day I rose, dutifully dressed and made the three subway changes to Rockefeller Center. My uniform for Scribner's was taken from Anna Karina in Bande à part: dark sweater, plaid skirt, black tights and flats. I was positioned at the phone desk, which was manned by the kindhearted and supportive Faith Cross. I felt lucky to be associated with such a historic bookstore. My salary was higher, and I had Janet as a confidante. I was rarely bored, and when I got restless, I wrote on the back of Scribner's stationery, like Tom inThe Glass Menagerie, scribbling poems on the inside of cardboard boxes."

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