“Hello, Bookstore” is what you hear when you call Matthew Tannenbaum’s old-fashioned bookshop in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Since the mid-70s, his sonorous voice has provided comfort and sage advice to generations of readers. And during the pandemic, Tannenbaum, an affable old hippy, stayed by his phone to recommend new titles, recite poetry and listen to problems.
“It’s like being a therapist,” grins the 70-something native New Yorker in Adam Zax’s freewheeling documentary. But rural booksellers don’t earn nearly as much as big city shrinks.
During the pandemic, Tannenbaum, a self-confessed lousy businessman, was making in a week what he used to take in a day.
Zax uses an unhurried fly-on-the wall documentary style to follow the local hero through the plague year of 2021 as he answers the phone, chats to his customers through masks and glass doors, and tries to ignore a growing mountain of unpaid bills.
We also stay in The Bookstore once readers return. Tannenbaum has little interest in turning a profit but he does love an audience.
Those hoping to quietly peruse his heaving shelves should avoid the stool by the till where a quick breather can turn into a front-row seat at a one-man show. Tannenbaum’s anecdotes could turn introverted book lovers into Amazon Prime subscribers.
But the affection of his customers sets up this charming documentary’s happy ending.
Hello, Bookstore, Cert PG, In cinemas and on digital now