Independent Bookstore

We have had to temporarily close our Online Bookstore until we can catch up with orders and correspondence. We anticipate it reopening December 1. We are also currently unable to accept orders by email or phone, with the exception of "Call & Collect" for readers here in Paris (books must be reserved by phone in advance; our number is 01.43.25.40.93).

Thanks to everyone who ordered from Shakespeare and Company! ❤️ We're truly touched by the outpouring of support, and are now working to fulfill shipping orders as quickly as possible. It may be a few weeks yet as it's proving quite the task for our small team (especially with health and distancing rules).

During this time, we encourage those who want to further support us to join our new Friends of Shakespeare and Company!

Friends of Shakespeare and Company 2021

A YEAR-LONG MEMBERSHIP PROGRAM TO SUPPORT THE BOOKSHOP

As so many of you can’t visit us right now, we are bringing the bookshop to you! We are thrilled to launch “Friends of Shakespeare and Company,” a one-year membership program created to support the shop, financially and spiritually, through 2021.

Membership starts at 45€ for the year. Along with our eternal gratitude, we’ll deliver—four times a year, straight to your inbox—a bit of the bookshop, made especially and exclusively for members. To give you a taste, a quarterly installment might include four or five pieces—a mix of video, audio, and new writing—such as a conversation with a celebrated author, a video tour of the bookshop by proprietor Sylvia Whitman, a new poem from a renowned writer, a slideshow of never-before-seen pieces from our archives, and a short story read by a much-loved actor.

We also offer higher-fee memberships, which include an online book club and an autographed hardback.

S co facade

Membership offers

One-time payment

WHY ARE WE LAUNCHING THIS PROGRAM NOW?

Starting with France’s lockdown in March and into autumn, sales at Shakespeare and Company were down 80%. Like other independent bookshops, we’ve made an extra effort to increase website orders. While these sales have provided great relief, we recognize it is unrealistic to expect an exceptional level of website activity to continue for the unforeseeable number of months when people remain unable to travel.

We knew we had to find a parallel and more reliable way forward for the bookshop. For guidance, we turned to our ever-bright beacon, Sylvia Beach, the founder of the first Shakespeare and Company. During the Great Depression, to secure the future of her shop, Beach established “Friends of Shakespeare and Company.” In exchange for an annual fee, participants were invited to members-only readings with T. S. Eliot, André Gide, Paul Valéry, and even Ernest Hemingway, who made an exception to his rule against public events.

As we can’t bring all our members to Paris and to the bookshop, we’re committed to bringing the bookshop to you. As well as a way of raising funds, the revived Friends of Shakespeare and Company seeks to reach out and strengthen our community of friends and fellow readers around the world.

Today we are asking those with the interest and means to do so to become members of our Friends of Shakespeare and Company, 2021. We’re excited to embark on this new chapter with each of you.

S Co Stair Quote photo David Grove

ABOUT SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY

Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookshop in the heart of Paris, opposite Notre-Dame. It has been a meeting place for writers and readers for almost seventy years.

In 1951, Shakespeare and Company was opened by George Whitman on rue de la Bûcherie. It was given its name by Sylvia Beach, who called the shop the “spiritual successor” to her own. Beach’s bookstore, on rue de l’Odéon (1919-1941), had been a gathering place for the great expat writers of the time, including Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald, Eliot, and Pound. And it was Beach who first published James Joyce’s Ulysses, when no one else dared.

George’s bookstore quickly became a center for anglophone literary life. James Baldwin, William Burroughs, Anaïs Nin, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Wright, Julio Cortázar, and Henry Miller were early visitors. And—from the first day—writers, artists, and intellectuals were invited to sleep for free among the shelves. Since then, an estimated 30,000 people have stayed in the bookshop. These guests are called Tumbleweeds after the rootless, rolling plants that “drift in and out with the winds of chance,” as George described.

Over the years, the shop grew from one long, narrow room on the ground floor to the labyrinth of books and nooks readers know today. George said, “I created this bookstore like a man would write a novel, building each room like a chapter, and I like people to open the door the way they open a book, a book that leads into a magic world in their imaginations.”

In 2002, at the age of twenty-one, Sylvia Whitman, George’s only child, returned to spend time with her father in his kingdom of books. Not long after, George put her in charge. Today Sylvia continues to own and run the shop, along with her partner (in life and business), David Delannet. Over the past decade, the bookshop has embarked upon several new adventures, including a café, a literary festival, a writing contest, and a publishing arm. Before the pandemic, Shakespeare and Company hosted free weekly events—open to the public and available on the shop’s podcast—welcoming writers such as Zadie Smith, Don DeLillo, Carol Ann Duffy, Colson Whitehead, Leïla Slimani, Rachel Cusk, George Saunders, and Jeanette Winterson.

Today George’s novel, this bookshop, is still being written—by Sylvia and David, by a dedicated team of booksellers, and by the thousands of people who continue to read, write, and sleep at Shakespeare and Company. Thank you for considering joining the Friends of Shakespeare and Company.

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