February 7, 2020

Patti Smith helps out Portland bookshop following burglary


Patti Smith: donated a box of signed first editions (Daigo Oliva, São Paulo via Wikicommons [CC BY-SA])

A couple of weeks ago we brought you news that The Petersfield Bookshop in, er, Petersfield, UK, had been given a much-needed sales boost with a little help from Neil Gaiman. This week, a similarly uplifting story unfolded on the other side of the Pond.

Guardian books correspondent Alison Flood reported on Wednesday that—following a New Year’s Day break-in—Passages bookshop in Portland, Oregon, received aid from an unexpected source: legendary proto-punk singer, memoirist and poet Patti Smith.

Passages had over 100 rare and valuable books stolen in the raid, including a copy of Smith’s lyrics. The newest recipient of the PEN America Literary Service Award called up the shop after news broke of the incident, offering to donate a box of signed first editions as recompense. In the Guardian report store owner David Abel recounted his shock at the conversation:

“In the week after the story appeared, I’d gotten a few crank calls and emails, so I was a little wary. But when she said she had read that one of her books had been taken, and that she couldn’t replace the missing Warhol but would be happy to send a box of signed copies of her books, I realised that it was Patti Smith calling.”

“Well, I really love bookstores,” Smith reportedly replied. And we love you, Patti!



Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.