BookWars (3 stars)
Reviewed by Stephen Miller
No, this isn't a futuristic tale about feuding
intergalactic libraries, though some of its bookish
characters exhibit distinctly otherworldly behavior.
Instead, it's filmmaker and former street bookseller Jason
Rosette's chronicle of lives on the other side of the
cluttered book table; and from Rosette's watchful eye to
his folksy, Kerouac-esque narration, it's a unique
experience. Hawking their wares in New York's Greenwich
Village and on the Lower East Side, Rosette and his fellow
enterprising bibliophiles are as dog-eared and diverse as
the titles they're pushing — lusty, poetic, funny,
scholarly, philosophical and decidedly offbeat.
Pretty much every big-city pedestrian has wondered, at
least in passing, how these marginal booksellers operate,
and Rosette lets us in on a variety of tricks of the trade,
including which titles sell best and which don't; how
encasing books in plastic jacks up the price; where sellers
find their books and where they stash them; how to size up
a prospective buyer; and why cardboard banana crates are
tops for schlepping books and storing them under the
Some sellers are ex-addicts, others are ex-stockbrokers:
They've chosen this line of work not only because they're
hard-core book mavens, but because they can make some fast
cash honestly, independently and legally — or so they
think. Rosette's film takes on a seriously Orwellian cast
when the sellers mobilize to wage a civil war of words
against the Big Brotherly NYC bureaucrats and academics
trying to sweep them off the street. Books = crooks...
please. Who could help but root for the feisty bookies in
the us-against-them conflict?