19 February 2009

Emergency ~ Shaman Drum Books

I have a longstanding connection to the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan. My first wife went to graduate school there at the University of Michigan. So I have memories of the city in the early 1980s. Like today, that was a time of real economic hardship in Michigan. But the town was not yet overrun by homogenizing chain stores and eateries. This was before Borders Books, which started in Ann Arbor, matured into an anti-union, least common denominator, medium-sized-box national chain.

For the past decade I have spent part of each summer teaching at the ICPSR Summer Program which is affiliated with the University of Michigan. So, I have witnessed the slow creep of homogenization as chains fill every commercial nook & cranny in Ann Arbor. A while back I mentioned the demise of Schoolkids Records where I had been buying - actually discovering - music since even before it was driven into into exile. Now another invaluable cultural resource - Shaman Drum Books - is under severe stress. You can read about the problems over at Isak, a really terrific blog that Anna Clark keeps. I highly recommend Isak. In any case, Anna has written this post about ways you might help save this bookstore; she has run another more recent post by Karl Pohrt who founded Shaman Drum in which he sketches the current situation, how it came to pass and what he is trying to do to remedy it. Independent purveyors of books and music are crucial to our cultural ecology. If Shaman Drum goes belly up, Ann Arbor will be much the worse for the loss.

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