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Hamlet, in the Original Version

Reno will host a unique cultural event- so unique it’s only been done four times in the last 500 years! The Nevada Repertory Company will have performances of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in the original pronunciation. Hamlet has been performed in the original pronunciation only four times since the 1600s in its original form, twice at the new Globe Theater in London, once in Kansas and at Cambridge in England. David Crystal, a Shakespearean scholar, linguist, and the dialogue coach for new Globe Theater in London has worked with actors of the Nevada Rep to say the dialogue of Hamlet the way Shakespeare would have. Ben Crystal, David Crystal’s son, will play the lead role of Hamlet in the play.

You might ask, what’s the difference? There is a big difference, actually. Although we can read what Shakespeare wrote, the way we say it is totally different. Vowels used to be pronounced more like they are in Spanish today. So, all those silent e’s would be pronounced (say the following sentence out loud pronouncing all the vowels that way). I’m really curious to see how the actors say their lines- are they going to try to say them with an accent, or just simply use the actor’s natural accent. I plan on going and I will find out and report it back to you all. This production of Hamlet should be a very interesting one as well as an historic one.

If you’re interested to get tickets for this unique event either go to the Lawlor Event Center Box Office (where you don’t have to pay the wonderful “convenience fee”) or get them online here. The official premiere of the show is November 4th, with previews November 1, 2, and 3rd. The show plays through November 20th.

To be there, or not to be there? Arnold as Hamlet might encourage you to be there in this clip from Last Action Hero!

The End of Borders, Bookstore That Is.

The Borders bookstore in Reno, NV on 7/19/2011, a day after the liquidation announcement.

Borders is finally liquidating and going out of business. It was already in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy since February, but now they’re clearing out their stock (probably starting Friday, July 22), laying off 10,700 of their employees, and closing all their stores across the US. This was announced on Monday at the end of the business day, at their headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here’s the letter from Border’s CEO to his employees about the current situation.I’ve been waiting for this to happen for the last year and a half, and now it has. Another chain bookstore gone from the US and now fewer places for people to buy books new. So what?

Now that Borders is closing, there’s just going to be less opportunity to get to books for many people. Sure, you can get books in Wal-Mart or Target, but most of those are the “best sellers” with a few religious books, some current non-fiction, novels of various genres, and juvenile and children’s books. Bookstores have more than just the best-sellers and safe books- they even have books that could elicit thought and other dangerous activities. What activities? Like having a conversation with other people not on a computer; buying a calendar that’s not fuzzy kitties or of historic lighthouses; browsing through stacks of books to find something you didn’t know that you really needed; being able to buy foreign magazines and newspapers, and just newspapers and magazines in general (in Reno, Borders had the best newsstand in town); and being able to go somewhere and have coffee and read and spend an afternoon in a relaxing, quiet place.

There is a solution to this dilemma. The thing to do is to support local bookstores more now and buy book from them. Reno has a great independent new bookstore, Sundance Books, and several good used bookstores, Zephyr Books and even Grassroots Books. Sure- there’s the Internet and buying books online, which I do. But, if you can find a book locally, why not buy it and keep your money where it can circulate in your own community and do more. Keep buying books locally and keep reading, and thinking.

The strangest thing for me is this: I went over to Borders to take some pictures of the outside for this piece and it looked like it’s always been since it opened: with people sitting in the café drinking coffee, meeting and reading, media bought and sold, and people milling around and going here and there. There are no notes, banners, signs, or anything to tell customers that Borders will soon be out of business.

Sundance Books Moves During Memorial Day Weekend

The Levy Mansion and soon, the new home of Sundance Books.

The Levy Mansion and soon, the new home of Sundance Books.

Moving a bookstore is very hard work, I know it from firsthand experience, having done it three times. The first time was when I worked at Black & White Books and we moved from Wells Avenue to Lakeside in the Moana West shopping center. The second and third time was when I moved my own bookstore, Truckee River Books, from one house to another. I once heard of a man moving an entire bookstore from Zurich, Switzerland to Dayton, Nevada and it was an amazing old bookstore with incunabula, antique and rare books, and old maps. In general, moving books, or at least a lot of books is an arduous and difficult process. Moving a bookstore is awesome achievement and it means that you, as a bookseller are able to continue. So, to be able to move an entire bookstore in two weeks, like Sundance Books intends to do is a very awesome thing indeed.

Sundance intends to close up their store on Keystone during Memorial Day weekend and be open on June 1st in their new location, the Levy House at the corner of Sierra and California, near the Nevada Museum of Art. The Levy House is a fine old mansion that will be a great place for a bookstore. Not only that, it puts Sundance Books downtown, in a good place that’s not so out of the way for most people. I know I’ll be there for the grand opening and I hope that this will be a great new chapter in Sundance Book’s history. Let’s buy some books and make sure they stay there for a long, long time.

Borders Is Bust

Borders has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Not really surprising, since if you follow these kinds of trends, Borders has been in trouble for years. If you just walk into a Borders, there’s fewer books now, barely any CDs, a few DVDs and a lot of “lifestyle” objects. Borders going bankrupt is just a sign of the problems with traditional book selling. It’s something that’s been happening since the mid 1990s when the first big book chains started to open up across the country. Before that, every town had at least one independent new bookstore. Reno had several: Sundance Books, The Little Professor, and a couple I can’t remember, even Carson had one. Of course you had Waldenbooks in the malls (I remember fondly the one in Park Lane Mall where I spent many happy hours,  it is now an empty lot gathering snow), and they had things you couldn’t get other places.  It all seemed to work.   In 1996, Barnes and Noble opened up in Reno, followed by Borders, and finally the “old” new bookstores started to close. Then, the used bookstores closed- and then we find ourselves where we are. For places without a real college, where books are everywhere, the only places to get books are the national chain stores and the internet. Soon, there’s going to be one less place to get books.