To the editors:
Frankly, I'm a bit sick of the way everyone is always eulogizing Guild Books [Hot Type, November 15]: how incomparable it is, how there's never been such a complete, total and superb bookstore, how noble the staff is, how it's a cornerstone of the community, blah, blah. What's going on with you types? I'm suspicious. After all, isn't it just a business owned by ______ but who knows? Murdoch maybe. And if it is a business, why should ordinary people start giving them money so that they can purchase book stock, such as they have suggested should be done to enable them to stock the Chicago poets (Luis Rodriguez in Letter Ex carried this piece of hype). Most places stock what they can sell, or what they care to sell to people. It's a new idea to stock what the public gives you the money to stock and then buys back from you. Very advanced financial theory that is. At that rate they'll be opening up stores next to Bloomingdale's in a few months' time, never mind going out of business. If they can't afford to have a few books by Chicago poets because only other Chicago poets read Chicago poets, then why don't they tell Chicago poets just to give their books to each other and not bother others with them? And if the Guild wouldn't run after every new thing in town just to cash in on it (performance, poetry) and just settle down to running a venture like a bookstore, they might be more successful. When they had the storefront next door to them for a while, they sectioned off a corner of it and held readings there. The one I went to charged an entrance of something like $3. They'd given the corner a coat of paint, tossed in some folding chairs and there was room for about 25 folks. They had invited Meridel Le Sueur (a great favorite in Chicago--naturally, there was nothing like enough room), and it ended with a long and pitiful plea (designed to appeal to the guilt in all of us for having a couple of dollars extra in our pocket that day) to "donate money so they could "expand"' (presumably adding chair lifts and seating on the ceiling). As a matter of fact, I came away thinking they were using Le Sueur to rack in some money to make up for their own failure to run a business, and had shown very little respect for her or for the public who cares very much for her and her work. For my money, the best Chicago bookstore for the serious reader is the Hyde Park Cooperative Bookstore at the U. of C. No doubt it is funded in the main by the university. But it is a cooperative venture; you can buy shares and they don't ask for charity. They aren't always talking about themselves either, nor do they enter every event that looks promising so as to self-publicize themselves more. When Guild goes down, go there.