The Future of Politics and Prose

As a D.C. landmark bookstore goes up for sale, an Atlantic writer considers buying, so people who love to read remain in charge of the shop

This is a bit of local news, so skip this item unless you live in Washington, or are literate, or are opposed to the Walmartization of publishing, or stand against barbarism generally. Politics and Prose, one of the world's great independent bookstores, conveniently located seven blocks from my house, is going up for sale. The two owners, Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade, are both 74 and are looking for buyers. You would think it might be hard to unload a bookstore these days, but Politics and Prose is an extraordinary place, as an article out now in the New York Times attests. Only a handful of weeks have gone by in the last ten or 15 years during which no one from my family had paid a visit to the store, and left some of Goldblog's hard-earned cash behind. I don't begrudge this spending one minute, in part because the store is a refuge, one staffed by people who actually read books, and have sharp and interesting opinions about them, and in even larger part because Politics and Prose, especially for Washington-based authors such as myself, is inevitably the most satisfying and delightful stop on any book tour, and I am not merely damning the place with faint praise (those of you who have read in St. Louis in February will know what I mean). I'll never forget my reading at Politics and Prose; I never wanted it to end (my audience, and Mrs. Goldblog, wanted it to end, but what did they know?).

In any case, careful readers of the Times will notice that Goldblog is mentioned as being interested in perhaps becoming one of the owners of this bookstore, as a member of a powerful yet discerning (and handsome!) combination that includes Frank Foer, the editor of The New Republic, and Rafe Sagalyn, the prominent literary agent, and that we hope will one day include Colin Powell, Fred Malek, and Vernon Jordan as well. (I kid, of course -- we don't really need Fred Malek counting our Jewish customers, of which I've noticed a couple.) The goal here is not to lose my money, of course (note to Atlantic management: I would be contributing a symbolic amount of money to this effort, so stop thinking what I think you're thinking) but to make sure that people who love books keep Politics and Prose vibrant and thriving, because without it, Washington would become even more of a wasteland than it already is.