There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up. Fields Book Store in San Francisco, California, a haven for spiritual and esoteric books since the 1930s, has announced that it’s closing their physical location and moving to online sales only. Current owner David Wiegleb says that “the bottom line comes down to the bottom line — revenues did not meet expenses for quite a number of years, even after cutting back wherever we could.” They have set up an email address at ThankYou@FieldsBooks.com where patrons can send photos and remembrances which they hope to collect into a gallery to be shared. I’m proud to say I’ve visited (and bought books) at Fields, and that David Wiegleb is a gentleman and a scholar, I wish Fields well as it makes the transition to being an Internet-only business.
Greetings from San Francisco! I’ve arrived safe and sound in the Bay Area, and have received warm hospitality from my lovely hosts. While you’re reading this I’ll be immersed in the proceedings of the American Academy of Religion’s Annual Meeting, but yesterday I had some unstructured time, so I thought I’d spend it by visiting the legendary Fields Book Store, a vital outlet for metaphysical and esoteric material since 1932. Braving the BART and buses, and with the help of some kind elderly ladies, I soon arrived at my destination. David Wiegleb, current owner of Fields, who I’ve interviewed via email for a variety of stories over the years, was gracious and open about the challenges of running a metaphysical bookstore in the current economic climate.
Well-respected esoteric publishers Scarlet Imprint, producers of high quality limited-edition volumes on such topics as the cult of Pomba Gira, Palo Mayombe, and magical grimoires, has announced that they are going to start releasing their titles as ebooks. “The e-book hopefully means more people will read books. That can only be a good thing. It also means that we can create affordable versions of our work so that readers can take the risk on new authors and unfamiliar subjects. You can dare to read and enrich yourself outside of your field, perhaps you haven’t encountered Pomba Gira or Palo Mayombe before, or you want to see if the poetry cuts it.
On July 22nd the bookstore chain Borders started the process of closing its 399 remaining locations. This move was long predicted by industry watchers as the once-mighty chain wobbled in the face of Amazon.com’s rise (a company it once outsourced to) and costly missteps in non-book merchandise. The last few weeks of media coverage has featured a mixture of fond reminiscences, 20/20 hindsight analysis, and predictions for the future of the book-selling industry. Many of the predictions haven’t been too cheery, for example, the investment site The Motley Fool predicts that Barnes & Noble will ultimately suffer the same fate, noting that “just because B&N will be the last one standing doesn’t mean that it will be standing for long.” Even if the Borders closure is the last domino to topple as the retail book market restructures itself for a post-ebook and post-Amazon world, that development alone could have far-reaching and possibly disastrous consequences for businesses that cater to modern Pagans.
At the beginning of June, copies of a new anthology, “Crowley: Thoughts & Perspectives, Volume Two,” started arriving at the homes of individuals who ordered the book. Published by Black Front Press, the volume received generally positive feedback from commenters at the Aleister Crowley Society. On June 10th, well-respected esoteric publishers Scarlet Imprint released a statement regarding Black Front Press, and its head, Troy Southgate. “We were approached recently to contribute to Troy Southgate’s Black Front Press whose last published work was a Crowley anthology. After a little research, we were disturbed to find their rather murky history hidden beneath the anti-corporate, anti-capitalist and permaculture ideals. Though we are very happy to promote the independent esoteric and occult authors and publishers whose work and dedication invigorate and stimulate our community, it is entirely another matter to contribute our energy to a project which would seem to be attempting to use a multiplicity of voices from the occult scene to promote the ideas of the so-called New-Right.” It seems that Southgate is the leading figurehead for the “National Anarchist” movement, a political extension of the European “New Right” (not to be confused with neoconservativism).