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Bookselling’s boom years of the ’60s and ’70s were stoked by a growing paperback industry as well as a culture that insisted that there were certain books you needed to at least capably bluff about. Now that Wikipedia allows everybody to bluff about anything for free, who needs books? Alex Beckstead’s documentary Paperback Dreams follows the recent efforts of a pair of San Francisco Bay Area booksellers to survive in the current economy, and you probably can guess what some of the store owners and talking heads have to say: The chains crippled the mom-and-pop stores, people love independent shops but don’t drop money there, Jeff Bezos isn’t far removed from the antichrist. But instead of slipping into simpleminded “shop local” cheerleading, Beckstead (who’ll attend this showing) lets the images speak—and lets publishing honchos explain, matter-of-factly, just how dire the stakes are for them as well.
PAPERBACK DREAMS SHOWS AT 7 P.M. AT VERTIGO BOOKS, 7346 BALTIMORE AVE., COLLEGE PARK. FREE. (301) 779-9300.