Just when you thought the possibilities for talking about, classifying, and analyzing the ambiguous cultural movement known as “hipsterdom” were over, here comes a new one out of the Hamptons, of all places. This item in the New Yorker’s Book Bench blog, about a “Hipster Lit” section in Hamptons bookstore chain Bookhampton, suggests the existence of a new strain of hipster: the “Hampster,” or Hamptons hipster. Cue long sigh. Is this real, though? And what are they, these Hampsters? Kim Lombardini, the marketing manager of Bookhampton and co-curator of the Hipster Lit shelf, was able to shed some light.
According to Lombardini, the staff of Bookhampton came up with the term independently of the Hamptons Dictionary, a satirical book which she says deserves credit for originating the appellation. Lombardini’s description of a Hampster is a hipster who’s not your “pale wastrel Williamsburg baby.”
“They go surfing, they spend time in the sun, they go out in Montauk in the evening. During the day they spend time in the un-Hamptons,” she told us, the un-Hamptons being the “less glitzy, less glamorous” parts where year-rounders live and work. “It’s a cluster of overlapping groups; it’s not packs of them, like in Williamsburg. It’s kids who are home from college who go to Wesleyan or whatever, it’s locals, it’s summer workers,” she said. “A lot of them come in on Fridays on the Hipster Jitney.”
The bookstore put together a shelf designed to suit the tastes of this emerging demographic; “we started assembling books we thought would appeal to people who are edgy already, or who wanted to gain a little edge.” The shelf includes authors like J.D. Salinger, Roberto Bolaño, Nick Hornby, and Arthur Rimbaud, among others. The unifying theme seems to be the likelihood that such books could be seen in the hands of someone sporting stovepipe jeans and patchy facial hair; as far as genres go, it’s quite a marketable one. So, now you know: the Hampster is a thing, and it’s picking up a copy of “High Fidelity” right now between sessions at the beach.
(By the way, Lombardini wanted to note that the folks at Bookhampton aren’t making fun of their hipster clientele. “We love all our customers,” she said. “Hipsters are our future in books.”)
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 23, 2011