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This would leave the number of African-American genre bookstores down to no more than half a dozen.
Besides competition from chain stores and Internet retailers, co-owner James Fugate cited a decline in purchases from institutions such as the Los Angeles Unified School District and public libraries. Last week he made a pitch to those customers via e-mail, saying in part, "Supporting us keeps books in the community, especially since we've moved over here, there really isn't a bookstore around, [for] miles. There's no real place--so people come here not just only [for] black books but they come here for school books."
In recent years, Eso Won has won widespread attention for a series of star-studded book signings and readings, which have featured such notables as former President Bill Clinton, actress Angela Bassett and mystery writer Walter Mosley.
But, Fugate said, many attendees don't purchase books at these events. "Certainly people come when we have our big events and I think, in some ways, people began to think, 'Oh, Eso Won could get by because we got President Clinton. Then they think we're fine. [But] If you really don't shop with us, then we're definitely not going to survive."