To Buy Or Not To Buy A Bookstore, And Some Considerations

Commentator Andrei Codrescu gets an offer to buy the Stein Bookstore in Jerusalem. It is the most distinguished bookstore in a city where books play an important role, and a place where great author once came.

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Commentator Andrei Codrescu got a business proposition the other day. It gave him a lot to think about.

ANDREI CODRESCU, BYLINE: I got a message out of the blue, where most messages come from these days. But not just any blue - the blue sky of Jerusalem. How would you like to buy a bookstore, this out-of-the- blue message said. And not just any bookstore, but the most distinguished bookstore in Jerusalem: the Stein Bookstore on King George Street, frequented in the past by the likes of Saul Bellow and other novelists, and in the present by brilliant young writers; a bookstore filled with new, old and rare books unlike any other in the city of books.

Jerusalem, where the shrine of the book is located. Jerusalem, where books are so important, they start holy wars and philosophical quarrels, and just plain old quarrels. Jerusalem, where books are currency worth their weight in flesh, and are certainly a lot weightier than the screen holding all your eBooks.

But for all that, the Stein Bookstore is for sale. It's cheap for the money. If I had it, I would buy it for whatever it costs. You get a square of the blue sky of Jerusalem with it, a square with a cloud on it; a cloud an angel sits on, reading a book.

CORNISH: Andrei Codrescu is author of "Biblio-Death: My Archives With Life In Footnotes."

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