Thursday, August 21, 2014

New Book Illustrates Labor Strife at the Strand

The Strand Bookstore in New York City is famous for being a destination for book lovers from all over the world. With its "18 miles of books," the Strand attracts customers who feel nothing but love for the bookstore, which has been in business since 1927. However, those who work at the Strand can tell a different story.
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Back in 2012, employees of the Strand were embroiled in a labor dispute that arose when the store's owners proposed a new contract that the employees felt would reduce their wages and benefits. Exacerbating matters, non-unionized workers were being hired at an increasing rate, causing concern for the unionized workers already on staff. 

One of the workers on staff during this tumultuous period was Greg Farrell, who is still employed at the bookstore. Farrell, a comic artist and rapper who resides in Brooklyn, has documented the 2012 labor struggle of he and his coworkers in a new book. Titled On the Books, it's a comic strip account that tells the story of the struggle from the inside.

For On the Books, Farrell interviewed his fellow workers at the Strand, adding further depth to the story of the Strand's steady transformation "into a worker-unfriendly, corporate-style environment," as described by John Farley in a March 23, 2012, article for MetroFocus. In addition, Farrell inserts his own interpretation of the labor strife at the Strand, and in doing so, allows readers a peek into the struggles of a young working person in the recent economic environment.

On the Books was just released by Microcosm Publishing as part of its World Around Us series. At 128 pages, the paperback is now available for $11.95 through the Microcosm website. Although it's newly released, On the Books is already getting praise. One of Farrell's coworkers at the Strand said the following about the book on his website:

"This is a completely important, brilliant, and informative nonfiction work. Our struggle is real, [and] Greg nailed it. He's a primary source to what happened in the last contract negotiations, he did extensive research from primary and secondary sources for other events in the Strand's and the union's history, and at no point did I feel like his criticism was unfair. If you love the Strand and its employees, you need to read this."

On the Books by Greg Farrell can be purchased directly from the author at the Strand, as well as from Forbidden Planet and online through Microcosm, Amazon, and elsewhere. It can also be downloaded as a PDF or e-book at Farrell filmed two trailers for On the Books. You can view the first trailer on YouTube and the second one below:

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