Of course public health and safety is of far more importance right now than soggy books as residents and officials struggle to deal with the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. But of interest to the bookish folk, Publishers Weekly did make every attempt to learn the fate of bookstores in the New Orleans and Mississippi Gulf Coast areas however, they were unable to reach any of the booksellers. The PW report stated “most of the several dozen stores are still unreachable by phone, either because of downed lines or evacuations. But as noted by Lyn Roberts at Square Books in Oxford, Miss., (which was not hit hard by the storm), most of the independent bookstores are close to the beach, leading her to fear the worse.”
Barnes and Noble spokespeople in New York stated the company has six stores in New Orleans and they have been unable to contact any employees, largely due to evacuation efforts. The article stated, “Britton Trice, owner of the Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans, was vacationing in Santa Fe when the hurricane hit. He emailed Random House regional manager Steve Wallace to say he thought his bookstore would withstand any flooding because the store is located on the second floor of a mall. Wallace and his reps were unable to reach Beaucoup Books and Octavia Books, New Orleans’ other major independents. ‘By now, I fear they are underwater,’ Wallace said.”
So our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to not just the booksellers, but everyone affected down there. Please give generously to the Red Cross Hurricane 2005 Relief fund. A full list of organizations offering relief can be found through FEMA. Keep in mind that sometimes if you do not specifically say that you want your donation to go to Hurricane Katrina victims, your donation may go to a general fund. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.