Book Stores

Indie bookstores face the best and worst of times

Anonymous Patron writes " Independent bookselling is a business prone to nostalgia it can ill afford. Those booksellers who recognize that location trumps sentiment are the ones opening new places. Ross came to San Francisco; Neal Sofman, a co-owner of A Clean Well Lighted Place, has opened Bookshop West Portal, and Books Inc. will take over the former Clean Well Lighted Place spot in September. Elaine Petrocelli is in negotiations to open a third location of Corte Madera's Book Passage in a Novato development that will include Whole Foods. Chains are not the worst of it"


The End of Authorship

The End of Authorship is an essay by John Updike over at the NY Times. "Booksellers, you are the salt of the book world. You are on the front line where, while the author cowers in his opium den, you encounter — or "interface with," as we say now — the rare and mysterious Americans who are willing to plunk down $25 for a book. Bookstores are lonely forts, spilling light onto the sidewalk. They civilize their neighborhoods. At my mother's side I used to visit the two stores in downtown Reading, Pa., a city then of 100,000, and I still recall their names and locations — the Book Mart, at Sixth Street and Court, and the Berkshire News, on Fifth Street, in front of the trolley stop that would take us home to Shillington."


Culture may close the book on shops

Anonymous Patron writes "Another one on the Indys closing: Ross and many other independent booksellers in the Bay Area share a common lament over a grim or nonexistent future for some of the most cherished havens for book lovers and strongest venues for visiting authors. Many cite and the proliferation of big chain bookstores. But there are other factors, they say, that have piled straw on the backs of businesses that face thin profit margins and stiff competition from discounters. They range from the dot-com blowup to bad city planning, to a societal turn toward laptop literacy."


Landmark Bookstore to Close in Berkeley

From A Report at NPR: Changing times along the strip just off Berkeley's campus have lead to the decline of local businesses along the strip, including the scheduled closure of a landmark store, Cody's Books.


Books by the foot

The Strand Bookstore in New York City has a service where they sell books by the foot. Take a look at the website. The pictures of the different categories of books they sell by the foot is interesting.


Powell's transition

Michael Powell, the founder of Powell's Books in Portland, and one of the best-known independent booksellers in America, is stepping down; his daughter Emily will be taking on the reins of the business. See more at the Bookfinder Blog


Do Bookstores Have a Future?

The Village Voice asks Do Bookstores Have a Future? The last decade has not been kind to the traditional corner bookshop. Battered by online discounts and chain superstores, the American Booksellers Association has crumbled from 5,200 bookstores in 1991 to 1,702 stores in 2005. So if you were to seek a summary of their dilemma, this one might sound apt: "The old-fashioned bookstore was a charming place, but charm alone will not solve the problem of modern book distribution. . . . Hard though it may be to face the fact, the bookstore of today cannot primarily be a place for those who revere books as things-in-themselves."


Rollins created a haven for book-lovers

The Kalamazoo Gazette has a nice Obit for John Rollins, owner of the John W. Rollins Bookseller store. Rollins, a former history professor who had worked at Border's Books in Ann Arbor in its pre-mega-chain days, envisioned a big Border's-inspired store loaded with titles and staffed by people who had read them. The Kalamazoo area came to love Rollins' store for its enormous selection and book-loving staff members who always seemed to have a recommendation for customers. It quickly became a mecca for readers, literary events and author book-signings.

What Are Independent Bookstores Good For?

gsandler writes "Here is a story in Slate on the death of the small bookstore. "Ever since the rise of the book superstore in the 1990s, we have been flooded with lamentations for the rapidly disappearing independent booksellers...Thanks to the indies, it is thought, high-quality but inaccessible books can slowly build their reputations through reader word-of-mouth and eventually take the literary world by storm. This is what people fear is disappearing forever; just last week the famed Cody's of Berkeley announced it is shutting down because of Internet and superstore competition. But does this idealized vision ring true? What exactly are we losing with the passing of the independent bookstore?""


In San Francisco, A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books Is For Sale

The last A Clean-Well Lighted Place for Books, on Van Ness in Opera Plaza in San Francisco, Calif., is for sale, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Low foot traffic and expensive parking on Van Ness are among reasons that sales have been declining for years. Owner Neal Sofman says "My long-term partners want out, and I don't have the capital to buy them out."

Sofman founded the original store in 1975 and opened the Opera Plaza location in 1982. The company's stores in Cupertino and Larkspur closed in the 1990s. Last month, Sofman sold the store's domain name, the very attractive

Undoubtedly the domain name sale will help make ends meet. Sad when a virtual internet destination has so much monetary value, and a treasured independent bookstore with a brick and mortar location has so little.



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