Tuesday the 5th was “Algonquin Night” at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, NC. If you’ve never been to The Regulator, it’s a big shop with a deceptively narrow storefront. Do not be fooled. There’s a long front room and a flight of stairs that leads to a bottom level, just as packed with good books as the first. Most days, I’d liken going down those stairs to a sort of intellectual spelunking, but on Tuesday the lower level was full of bookish types, sharing wine and beer, getting rowdy and loving literature. A den of book nerds. I was delighted.
One of the founding fathers of the bookshop, Tom Campbell, was our gracious host for the evening, mixing expertise with good advice, sharing favorite titles and memories. And when’s the last time someone asked you about a really BAD book that you’ve read? The audience shared not just favorite Algonquin titles, but good (and bad) reads in general. It was kind of sinful and fun to congregate in a bookstore, swapping reading war stories.
The senior staff at Algonquin shared some of their favorite Algonquin titles with the audience.
I’m just an intern at Algonquin. I spend a lot of time NOT knowing. Or rather, I spend a lot of time learning because the parameters of this business are far and wide; everyday something new. “Publishing” isn’t one of the careers that they pitch to you in elementary school, so it’s not an industry about which I had any preconceived notions.
But here’s what I was thinking, driving home from The Regulator on Tuesday:
It’s one thing to work a job at a publishing house (editing a draft, promoting a book, publicizing an author’s tour), but it’s another thing entirely to believe in a publishing house. I got to watch my bosses get up and speak passionately about their life’s work—the books they’ve rescued from a stack of forgotten inquiries, the authors they’ve fought for—and it’s that personal investment that makes all the difference. I suppose that’s true in any business, but it’s also a quality that’s slowly vanishing. And I think the great turnout we had on Tuesday is a testament to Algonquin, and The Regulator, and the integrity of these businesses which are so vital to the health of the literary community.
Well, that, and they know the value of a good bottle of wine.
–Susannah Long, Blog Intern