"Backlist" is bookstore lingo for anything not recently published. Gable lists the questions he grappled with: "Do people still read what are considered great works? I like to think that you can't have a serious literature section without Balzac, or all of Dickens, or most of George Eliot. Let alone, should you carry Hermann Broch or Robert Musil--he wrote one of the great novels of the twentieth century, The Man Without Qualities--or Elias Canetti. Do people still read Stendhal? Fielding? Smollett?" In the end, many of Literati's titles were chosen by making lists from Gable's personal library.
"I like what they've done with the store," Gable says. "It has a lot of charm. It reminds me of the City Lights bookstore in San Francisco." (Lowe cites Brooklyn's Greenlight and Minneapolis's Bookcase as her models.) "I hope that people will support it, along with Nicola's." But he injects a cautionary note: "People tend to talk a better game than they play. They jabber about 'won't it be nice to have a bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor?' and 'too bad that Borders and Shaman Drum are gone.' But will they go in to browse and then order something from Amazon?"
Literati, 124 E. Washington, 585-5567. Sun.-Wed. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Thurs. & Fri. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. literatibookstore.wordpress.com
[Originally published in May, 2013.]