Comments: 5
So I take it from the AMZ reviews Daniel Kehlmann sings the praises of Dussmann in Berlin (despite finding both the city and the bookstore cold, hard places)?
Murder by Death 8 months ago
Yes, he did! It was a funny piece (funny/unique); written as a dialogue between two unnamed authors, one of whom is a huge fan Dussmann. I can't quite explain what he does, but I ended the essay feeling like Berlin was the girl "with a great personality", if you know what I mean? Perhaps not attractive on the surface, but wise and cultured just below and he says Dussmann's is the same.

He also uses this essay as a convincing argument that we need large bookstores that aren't chains; places you can find what you're looking for and also browse anonymously without the bookseller trying to 'connect'. I wasn't sure WHAT to think of it when it began but by the end I loved it.
Does he mention that Dussmann seriously got taken to task some 10 years ago for trying to trick their way out of abiding by some very basic German labor law? (It was a *huge* story, not merely in the book and law worlds, so I wouldn't be buying "maybe he simply didn't hear about it.") No bones about it, I like Dussmann as a store, too. And I like that they picked the location they did and stuck to it. But that move was basically "srew the little guy 101", and no story about Dussmann can possibly be complete without it -- nothing "wise and cultured" about that; in fact, worse than any chain store would ever even dare try.

And btw, I know I'm biased, but I actually do think Berlin *is* a beautiful city. :) Not everywhere. Certainly not every part that tourists tend to see first. But even some of those parts (e.g., think of Charlottenburg Castle and the neighborhood surrounding it) -- and enough in plain sight even on a superficial, short visit so as not to have to take recourse to the "great personality" cliché. :)
Murder by Death 8 months ago
He did not mention any scandals, although the character that praised Dussman's was also praising Berlin - it was the other character that didn't like Berlin.

Interestingly and related to this, Iam Samson's essay talks about his stint at Foyle's in the 80's and says it was during the time when Foyle's policy was to fire everyone who had been there 2 years, in order to avoid paying benefits, and everyone still received their pay in cash packets. :p
Yes, I think not every bookstore (including not every independent bookstore) is necessarily a nice place to work; and OTOH, not every bookstore chain is necessarily a place of evil. One of my sisters had a job at the Berlin flagstore shop of one of Germany's large bookstore chains while she was in university, and as I recall she very much liked it, and was sorry -- not for that reason alone, obviously -- when they decided to abandon the location ... thus, ironically, making way for Dussmann. (Who opened at a different location a year or two later IIRC, but had all the easier a game because their then-major competition had just made the untimely move to abandon the Berlin market.)