Thursday, April 20, 2006


One sad thing I saw in Boston...

...was this lovely old building, 34 Beacon Street, which was for years and years the home of the publisher Little, Brown & Company, before the powers that be at Time, Warner bought it and decided to move it book, stock, and barrel to a larger faceless modern office building somewhere near Government Center. L, B & C had another building a block up, also, at 41 Mount Vernon Street, and happily Beacon Press has now moved in to that address. They have a display of poet Mary Oliver's books in one window, which made me leave a nose-print on the glass.

But here's the specific thing that made me sad, aside from the general move. I took the far-away photo, then crossed the street to look at the doorway of the building, and saw the following:

There are the shadows and holes where the brass letters were, which for decades read "Little, Brown & Co." I think it was David Sedaris who said that when he was first published he was so proud to be a Little, Brown & Co. author that he wanted it on his gravestone when he died: "Published by Little, Brown." Those little holes and shadows made me sad, and I thought about the person who removed them and how he or she must have felt. I'm sure some of the offices in this building were inconvenient and poky while others were spacious and elegant. So, with growth, and mergers, a move was inevitable. But tradition, and beauty... Sometimes I hate change.

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