In response to two open letters from bookseller Karl Pohrt to the Ann Arbor community, a loose coalition of booklovers is coming together to save Shaman Drum bookstore from closing its doors. In a letter sent out to Shaman Drum’s e-mail list Friday and discussed on the front page of the Ann Arbor News the next day, University of Michigan English professor Julie Ellison warns that the 29-year-old booktore is “dying.” Ellison and the letter’s co-signers, who include former poet laureates Robert Hass and Robert Pinsky, bookseller Richard Howorth of Square Books in Oxford, Miss., plus 40 Ann Arbor residents, propose solutions meant to turn the bookstore into what she calls a “humanities commons.”
Ellison’s proposals include the University of Michigan changing its current textbook policy to include a statement on the benefits of buying textbooks from local booksellers; individuals buying shares in the bookstore’s nonprofit arm, the Great Lakes Literary Arts Center; the University of Michigan Humanities Center making space available for arts center classes; the university using the bookstore as a site for teaching students about consumer behavior in the digital age; and students and faculty in the university’s Nonprofit and public Management Center and the School of Information assisting the bookstore in developing a new business model and writing grants to support it.
We really hope some good comes out of all of this, and that they find a way to keep Shaman Drum alive.
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
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