By 1897, holiday window dressing was such a heated enterprise, L. Frank Baum, who wrote The Wizard of Oz and was thereby an authority on all things magical, began publishing Show Window, a magazine devoted entirely to holiday window displays, which awarded prizes to the best designs. Baum saw the artistry in each window and aimed to raise 'mercantile decorating' to the status of a profession by founding the National Association of Window Trimmers. --Lucie Levine in a 6sqft piece chronicling the history of New York City's legendary holiday windows
After last week's virtual sleigh ride through an independent bookstore Christmas tree forest, it seemed only natural to bookend the adventure by heading downtown for a complementary tour of another retail tradition, the bookshop holiday season window display.
David Hoey, senior director of visual presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, told the New York Times what his holiday store window goal is: "Here's what we're looking for: We're trying to induce aesthetic delirium."
Indie booksellers are not generally pressured to build window displays that induce altered states of consciousness in their customers. That's what books are for. The goal is to reflect a more tranquil atmosphere with an invitation to the coziness and even retail sanctuary within the shop (though additional sales never hurt).
And while I did spend a few crazy hours plowing through the seasonal madness of Midtown Manhattan a couple of weeks ago, I have also been dashing through the social media snow to check out the wizardry of bookshop holiday window displays, from Downtown Books in Manteo, N.C., to Fireside Books in Palmer, Alaska, and many places in between, including:
Barbara's Bookstore, Chicago, Ill., acknowledged historic--"When Macy's was Marshall Field's: Christmas store window featuring furniture; holiday shoppers on State Street. circa 1941."--as well as contemporary traditions: "Our State Street bookstore is located inside Macy's, where it's really beginning to look a lot like Christmas--especially on the seventh floor."
Two Sisters Bookery, Wilmington, N.C.: "Queen Katie, and Her need for sunshine in the afternoon, is truly testing MY need for symmetry! I curtsy. Sighhhh."
Mabel's Fables Bookstore, Toronto, Can.: "Mabel's Fables is here for all your last-minute Holiday needs! Even the mice agree!"
Books & Mortar, Grand Rapids, Mich.: "You know your signage is working when the American Book Association posts about it. It's really not a big deal. We're being chill about it... okay, okay, we may be a little geeked."
Greedy Reads, Baltimore, Md.: "Quick reminder that tonight is the second of our special evening shopping hours! Come browse the books from 5-9pm with wine, snacks, and special giveaways."
Browsers Bookshop, Olympia, Wash.: "[W]e have a wreath on our building, our staff holiday party is tonight, and we are looking forward to a bustling shop in the next couple of days."
Lighthouse Bookshop, Edinburgh, Scotland: "We have a new window display; It's... festive! Red. Raging. Revolutionary. Fitting for these days of ours. Yes, it's us doing 'Festive' while the world goes mad."
Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Mo.: "Living Windows in The District from 6-8 tonight! Mary Poppins has a fierce game of cards going right now."
Kirkdale Bookshop, London: "Christmas Window 2.0."
Simply Books, Bramhall, Eng;and: "Thank you @CressidaCowell & @LaytonNeal for inspiring our #christmas window this year!"
Let's Play Books, Emmaus, Pa.: "According to the Conductor of the Polar Express, the weather looks good for a trip to the North Pole! See you at 2018 Old Fashioned Christmas--see you on the trolley!"
Run for Cover Bookstore and Café, San Diego, Calif.: "Our ever so talented Ferril painted our window today and we love it. We are entering the OBMA storefront window contest so keep an eye out for voting info soon!"
New Dominion Bookshop, Charlottesville, Va.: "Getting in the holiday spirit!"
Next Page Books, Cedar Rapids, Iowa: "We're ready for Deck the District this weekend in NewBo. Join us for a spot of good cheer!"
The Green Toad Bookstore, Oneonta, N.Y.: "Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot. But the Grinch who lived just North of Whoville did not!" And from the inside: "Window with your stars so bright, won't you light our books tonight?"
Bards Alley, Vienna, Va.: "Our Polar Express window display won the Town of Vienna, VA - Government 2018 Holiday Window Decorating Contest! Of course, our community of authors and book-lovers inspired us. Thank you for helping us ring in the holiday season! A special note of gratitude to Phil Charlwood for creating this magical scene!"
FoxTale Book Shoppe, Woodstock, Ga.: "One of our holiday windows!" And: "Our kids’ themed window display!"
Lake Forest Book Store, Lake Forest, Ill.: "Celebrate your local shopping district."
And, finally, a few seasonally appropriate words from the Ripped Bodice, Culver City, Calif.: "And to all a goodnight."