On The Books: A Graphic Tale of Working Woes at NYC's Strand Bookstore
by Greg Farrell Author
A David and Goliath story, On The Books is the first-hand comic strip account of the labor struggle at NYC’s legendary Strand bookstore in the summer of 2012. Told by Greg Farrell—an employee of the store who interviewed numerous other members of the staff—the book examines the motives and actions of those involved, including the store, the staff, the union local, and the people of New York City. Through interstitial comic portraits Farrell gives voice to his comrades, who often share a nuance of the story that would have otherwise gone overlooked and provide a depth of opinion and fairness to accompany Farrell’s often very personal interpretation of events. In ten short chapters the book explores at once the inner workings of our national retail environment, the struggle to exist within it as a young working person, the current state of the book trade, and the impact of the economic recession on all of these factors.
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Comments & Reviews
If the comic can’t claim to set an industry standard for art or narrative, it comes close to providing a blueprint for recounting political struggles in its expertly arranged assortment of narrative elements...For people interested in labour struggles, or simply in social justice, this is a must-read...a thoughtful text that I hope will continue to receive attention.
"In ten short chapters the book explores at once the inner workings of our national retail environment, the struggle to exist within it as a young working person, the current state of the book trade, and the impact of the economic recession on all of these factors."
"friction among the fiction."
Chris Auman - Reglar Wiglar
"If you may have thought you were keeping your hands clean as a consumer by shopping at an indy bookstore like the Strand, it’ll make you think twice."
Tim Peters - The Baffler
"His emotional investment in the story, willingness to question his own position, and patient explanations of everything from the process of attempting to organize an action to “the Strand logo cottage industry” make him an excellent narrator."
Jillian Steinhauer - Hyperallergic
"a fascinating read"
-New Noise Magazine
"a remarkable, raw and emotionally charged account"
-High Low Comics
"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. I think if you love the Strand and it’s employees you need to read this. I think if you’re a New Yorker you need to read this. I think if you are human you need to read this."
Overall Rating: 7/7
Read by Moonlight
A revealing look at the inner dynamics of a labor struggle, this comic is valuable not only as an engaging story, but also as a historical record of a particular event, and in addition, an insightful look at a dynamic playing itself out on a global scale.
"A fine addition to the great history of comics and labor"