Sunday, August 2, 2009

Closing the books on the local bookshop

Stacks of bookstores and bookshops selling new, used, and rare books are closing their financial books these days. Here's a round-up of some recent and future closings:

United States

Harvard University Press’ Display Room closed its doors after more than sixty years of selling books in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The lack of book sales and financial losses in Harvard's endowment portfolio were to blame. D'oh!

Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, Massachusetts, closed on August 1st after 25 years in business. The owner said she thinks the book business looks bleak.

Epilogue Books, a new and used bookstore in Seattle, is closing for good in mid-August because of unfavorable economic conditions.

Creatures ‘n Crooks Bookshoppe in Richmond, Virginia, which specializes in mystery, science fiction, fantasy and horror book titles, will close at the end of September because of the current economy. It originally opened in 2000 and moved to its current location in 2004.

Trover Shop, a bookstore on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., is, "given the current economic climate and the changes in our industry," closing after 51 years in business. Hillary Clinton, Colin Powell, Barbara Walters, and Larry King are just a few of the many prominent “authors” who held book signings at the store.

• The X-Mart adult bookstore in Augusta, Georgia, which claims it was closed illegally by the city, plans to reopen and sue the city for lost revenue.

• The owner of Twenty-Third Avenue Books in Portland, Oregon, which collapsed financially in January 2009, ended up homeless.

Lakewood Ranch Booksellers in Lakewood, Florida, closed after being open for less than a year.

Dicho's bookstore chain in Dallas closed its Bishop Arts District location after a landlord-tennant dispute.

Prairie Avenue Books in Chicago, a posh architectural bookshop, will close its doors in September unless the owners can find a buyer. Apparently, they hope to find "a book-loving, tech-savvy 35-year-old with the inclination to expand the bookstore's online presence.”


Pages Books in Toronto, founded in 1971, is closing its doors for the last time on August 31st because of escalating rents and the inability to find attractive, affordable space.

United Kingdom

• Nearly 200 people attended a rally in Swindon, Wiltshire, to voice their concern about the scheduled closure of a Borders bookstore. The rally was held on the steps of the local library. The bookstore is expected to shut its doors on August 9th.

• The owner of Ellwood Books in Salisbury says “unfair competition” from an Oxfam charity shop forced him to close his store.

Crockatt and Powell, an independent bookseller in London, closed a shop on July 30th after almost four years of trading. A co-owner blamed the closure on the decision to open a second shop in Chelsea last year.

Waterfield’s, which has been selling secondhand books in Oxford since 1973, is scheduled to close at the end of the summer. “People might think the shop is closing due to the recession but that’s not the case -- I have been a bookseller for 32 years and I need a complete change.”

Borders UK, the bookshop chain, is closing down five of its biggest stores including the Oxford Street, London branch, because of tough trading. The shops will close in August.


Brentano's, an American book shop established in Paris in 1895, closed at the end of June because it could no longer pay the rent. Located on Avenue de l'Opéra, the shop had a storied history. Customers included Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway. During World War II, it was closed by the Nazis and turned it into a film and camera supply centre for the Wehrmacht.


• The global economic recession has hit bookstores in Russia. Top Kniga, a Russian chain of about 600 stores and a major online bookseller, is the latest seller to face financial difficulty.

Pictured: Brentano's in Paris

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