'BookWars' is an award winning feature length documentary about urban grass level entrepreneurial activity in public spaces as depicted via a first person portraiture of street booksellers of New York City.

SYNOPSIS: The gritty world of New York City street booksellers is exposed in a remarkable story that chronicles their lives and loves and their unique perspectives on life. Made on location at the sidewalk book tables of New York by a fellow street bookseller, 'BookWars' explores the other side of the book tables along the streets of the Village, on the Lower East Side, along 6th avenue, and elsewhere in New York City.

See the Mayor, the University and the NYPD try to shut them down!


When Rudolph Giuliani was elected Mayor of New York City in 1993, he devised a program colloquially referred to as 'Quality of Life' [1] [2]. The proposed aim was to clean up the city of New York in adherence to sociological/criminological notions of the 'Broken Window Theory.'

What was worth cleaning up was of course subjectively determined by those intent on doing the cleaning.

Besides "unsavory" institutions like porn shops, New York's Quality of Life plan was also designed to control and limit individuals who existed outside of the system, especially those who lived on or made a living on the street.

The first targets were the most visible and also the least organized (and therefore the most defenseless): the homeless and the semi-homeless, ala, the once-ubiquitous squeegee guys.

Inevitably, street vendors of all sorts were challenged, including street booksellers all over the city--despite their First Amendment Rights.

Many of the booksellers resisted, thanks to pro bono legal assistance and their own petitioning efforts. And in the end, despite some areas of the city being shut down to street bookselling, the booksellers withstood many of the initial challenges that the Mayor's Quality of Life plan presented.

On W4th street, the police acted with more restraint unless prompted by an outside complainant. Most of the officers I encountered as a caucasian (minus suntan) street bookseller were fairly reasonable, and they often admitted they had better things to do then to confront us at our bookstands.

The nearby University appeared to consider street booksellers to be incongruent with their corporate image. Thus, they sought to do away with them by applying steady pressure via the local 9th precinct. Under the umbrella of the Mayor's Quality of Life program, the University whittled away at the civil liberties of those individuals who made a living selling books on West 4th street and in other areas in its sphere of influence.

In the end it was many of the University's 's own professors and students who signed the petitions we presented at community board meetings in defense of street booksellers.

Technical Information


Feature Version - 79 min / Television Version - 56:30 / Cable TV Version - 43 min.


Produced by Camerado Media in association with S.A.I.D Communcations

Written, Directed, Photographed & Edited by Jason Rosette

Produced by James & John Montoya, Michel Negroponte, and Jason Rosette
Additional Editing by Greg Janza / Motion Graphics by Eric Schirra
Technical Operator Dennis Muldrow / Associate producer Lee Clark
Additional Editing Services by Field & Frame, Albuquerque, NM
Additional Support by the Playboy Foundation and the Experimental TV Center

Shot on location on the streets of New York between 1995 and 2000
© 2000 Jason Rosette / Camerado

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