Thursday, September 3, 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 for various reasons. Here's a round-up of some recent and future closings:

United States

Wahrenbrock's Book House, the oldest and largest bookstore in San Diego, closed in early August after 74 years of business. Clients included Richard Nixon, Michael Jackson, and Lisa Marie Presley.

Powell’s, a mainstay of the Chicago bookselling scene since 1970, is closing its South Loop location in September. The once-seedy neighborhood has become gentrified in recent years, driving up rents.

Walden Books at the Fort Steubenville Mall in Ohio was scheduled to close in late August as the company liquidates stores nationwide.

Conkey’s Book Store in Appleton, Wisconsin, the state’s oldest independent bookstore, was scheduled to close at the end of August after 113 years of business. The owner said the bookstore has a potential buyer.

Storylines Bookstore & Café in Watkins Glen, New York will close on September 12th as the owners seek a buyer for the business.

Lazy Days book shop in Long Beach, New York was scheduled to close at the end of August. It opened in 2002.

Sarasota News & Books on the Gulf coast of Florida was scheduled to close at the end of August. The store descended from Charlie's News Stand and traced its roots to the late 1950s.

Libros Revolucion Books, a Los Angeles bookstore that promotes the literature of the Revolutionary Communist Party, was scheduled to be evicted by its landlord in mid-August because of failure to pay rent.

Bookbeat in Fairfax, California announced last week that it is closing in September after 10 years of business, leaving the town with no bookstore.

Aspen Book Store, a tiny bookstore at the Little Nell Hotel in Aspen, Colorado is closing September 8th. The general-interest bookstore has been a fixture in the luxury hotel since it opened in December 1989.

Oakley’s Books & Gifts in Lexington, North Carolina is closing in October after 35 years of business. The store sells all types of Christian items from Bibles to choir robes, figurines and flags.

The Maple Street Children’s Book Shop in New Orleans closed in early August after 34 years of business. The owner made the decision after “running out of cash and credit.”


Frog Hollow Books in Halifax was scheduled to close at the end of August after 25 years of business. The owner cited a slumping economy and increased competition.

The Dusty Cover, a non-profit used bookstore in Winnipeg run by a Christian mission, closed after only 18 months due to the difficulty of finding regular volunteers to keep it open.

United Kingdom

Four Provinces bookshop in Holborn, a London area shop for rare and specialist Irish publications, announced in early August that it intended to close due to an increase in the cost of its annual lease. Owned by an Irish organization and staffed entirely by volunteers, the bookshop dates to 1966.

What the Dickens Bookshop in Melksham, Wiltshire was scheduled to close at the end of August after 20 years of business. “I have decided to call it a day as bookselling in this country is changing and booksellers are having a hard time,” the owner said.


• The remaining four outlets of the Bookberry chain of bookstores in Russia are closing because of financial problems with creditors.

In related news, accounting giant Grant Thornton released a report that estimates 10,000 retail stores could close by the end of 2009 because of plummeting sales and changes in consumer buying habits. According to The Milwaukee Business Journal, which is familiar with the report, "Bookstore closings, while only a small percentage of the overall total, are projected to jump 500 percent this year. Those figures include the Milwaukee-based Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops chain, which closed its last four stores earlier this year."

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