Nov 30, 2022
In an email I received several months ago, the owners of the
iconic Washington, D.C. based independent bookstore Politics &
Prose wrote that Mark LaFramboise, their chief book buyer, had
died. “Mark was the best book buyer any independent bookstore could
hope for,” Brad Graham and Lissa Muscatine said in their note. "Not
only did he know books; he knew P&P’s customers, who gravitated
to him because his passion for literature was infectious. Mark also
was greatly appreciated by local authors, whose careers he
championed and whose works he celebrated. And he was widely
respected throughout the publishing industry, having built
relationships over many years with booksellers and buyers at other
stores, regional reps, editors, and top brass at the major
Mark served as president of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) from 2014 to 2016, and as a judge for the 2019 National Book Awards. He was 60 years old.
I wanted to learn more about him. Brad suggested I interview Anton Bogomazov. He's responsible for buying books for P&P's two branch stores and knew Mark well. He too has an interesting resume, having lived in New York, Toronto, a tiny town in rural Japan and a suburb of Moscow. Anton, predictably, is a big reader, favouring many genres, including fiction of all kinds, queer lit/nonfiction, graphic novels and comics, essays, history, science, poetry and mythology (the original fiction). He tends to read four of five books at a time, and tries to be a good bookseller by having at least one not-yet-published book on his nightstand at all times.
We talk about the role of book buyer; his experience, and how Mark approached the position.