Reader Friday: Bookstores

Former site of Barnes & Noble, Woodland Hills, CA

Barnes & Noble stores continue to close, while independent bookstores appear to be making a comeback.

What’s the bookstore situation where you live?


16 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Bookstores

  1. We live in Vermont. We have a one Barnes and Noble in the entire state and it’s about 50 minutes away. However, we have five locally owned, independent bookstores, most of them featuring used books as well as new and special orders, within 15 minutes.

  2. I am very lucky to live in a converted mill building with a used bookstore on the first floor that is well-stocked with reasonably priced books in all sorts of fiction and nonfiction categories. In addition, a few miles away, Williams College operates a wonderful used bookstore called Chapter Two Books. Their collection is smaller, but curated and priced to sell with books on craft, art, writing, fiction, biographies, history, etc. Both bookstores carry some new titles, usually by local authors or about local history, but the focus is on used books, which are usually lower-priced and in better condition than used books from Amazon.

    • If you’re here, I assume you are or want to be a writer, or you’re a huge reader. Authors and publishers make absolutely nothing on used books, and money fuels the industry. A book resold over and over again doesn’t tell a publisher that lots of people want to buy that book so the publisher has less reason to buy that author’s next book. I’ve watched an entire subgenre of romance disappear because everyone in the distribution chain thought no one wanted to read it while the few that were out there were fought over in used bookstores with a long line waiting to buy that copy when it was returned. It’s in readers’ best interest to buy new. I understand having poor finances, but In these days of cheaper ebooks, only buying used is just wrong.

  3. I’ve been angry at Borders since they closed up shop–they were great stores. In Phoenix, we have nine Barnes and Nobel stores and a number of used-book stores, with two or three of them being excellent.

    With rumors of the possibility of Amazon opening stores one day here, I began to read reviews of Amazon’s current book-and-mortar stores. My conclusion: again, New Yahk is trying to dictate literary, fashion, and literary standards to the rest of the country. Back in 2017. New Republic writer’s Alex Shephard sniffed his New York-laced criteria for bookstores in an article titled and subtitled:
    The Amazon Bookstore Isn’t Evil. It’s Just Dumb.
    Publishers fear that Amazon is trying to dominate brick-and-mortar retail. They needn’t worry.

    Of course Amazon didn’t meet his expectations then: books not displayed with spine facing the shopper, but rather, covers looking at the shoppers. They carried Bill O’reilly’s books, and not his New Yahker’s choice of writers with his political and social philosophies. Strike two by Shephard’s standards.

    I’m not saying I disagree entirely with Shephard’s views. But I’ll probably wander down to a local Barnes and Nobel, get myself a muffin and a cup of coffee–though I’d prefer a glazed doughnut and a Pepsi–and read to my heart’s content. And I’ll read late. Remember–we’re on Arizona time. And that just drives New Yorkers nuts.

  4. In the tiny town of Divide, Colorado, our ‘bookstore’ is a 3-shelf bookcase in the local indie grocery store. The nearest “city”, Woodland Park has a Walmart and two chain grocery stores that sell books, but no actual bookstores.
    I shop on line or use the library.

  5. The Barnes and Nobles near home and close to work are both still going strong.

    I did a search and discovered there is an indie bookstore and used bookstore just up the road from me.

    Most of the books that I buy I get from Goodwill (affordable). New books I get B&N to put aside for me and I pick them up from work or home, whichever is closer.

    Most new books I get from.the library on my Overdrive app.

  6. Our huge B&N closed yesterday despite its parking lot always being half full or better, and it being within walking distance of a university. Sigh. Supposedly, it will come back with a smaller store, but I don’t believe that. So, no bookstore in a thriving city except for a used bookstore.

  7. In the St Louis area a few Barnes and Nobles have closed, but the rest continue to be open and seemingly thrive. In addition we have several Half-Price Books which are always busy, and several excellent independent bookstores which continue to thrive.

    I miss Borders—as a kid many moons ago used to curl up on the floor in the back and read Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators. Oh well.

  8. I recently had to make a list of bookstores within a 50 mile radius for my publisher (for marketing purposes) and was amazed that in a city the size of Milwaukee, other than B & N, there is only one actual bookstore worth the name, Boswell Books on the east side (which is far from my house). Another is about 30 miles to the west of the city in a far suburb Oconomowoc. It’s a travesty, but we are all supremely glad we at least have Boswell!

  9. In my town, we have a beautiful little bookstore called Inklings Bookshop. (Don’t you love the name?)

    They’re tucked away in a small shopping center. They host authors frequently, both local and not-so-local. I’ve had two signings/readings over the last couple of years.

    We also have another bookstore downtown called Churchill’s Used Bookstore. I feel fortunate to have two in our medium-sized town. We used to have Borders, but they moved on.

  10. We have several B&N’s in Memphis and they seem to be doing well. I’ve done book signings at two of them and the employees were very helpful. (I didn’t sell a lot of books, but had a lot of fun.)
    We also have a large and lovely independent book store named Novel which seems to be thriving. They provided me with a huge room to give a talk and book signing, and the staff was very supportive. They also have a good cafe.
    I do miss Borders.

  11. I live in the #1 Book Reading town in the U.S. Or something like that, from some survey some years ago. Sorry, can’t find it now; can’t vouch for it.

    Charlottesville, Virginia. Home to 2 Presidents (Jefferson and Monroe, with Madison a buggy ride away). And an author or two: Poe, Faulkner, plus John Grisham lives down the road – Hi John! I know you’re reading this).

    And plenty of bookstores. One B&N. A few All-Used. Several Indies. Plus a great regional library system I frequent regularly. Plus the stacks at the Univ. of Virginia (created by Mr. Jefferson). You name it, we got it, bookwise.

    And to JSB: I moved here from good old Woodland Hills. Nonstop. Come visit sometime.

  12. I work for Barnes and Noble. New CEO James Daunt is a great asset to the company.
    The front end changes implemented so far have been noticed by customers and they’re expressing positive feedback.
    Floor plans have changed to better display books.
    Customer service is at the forefront.
    Daunt is bringing back the basics of bookselling. Something that seems like a no brainer. But, B&N seemed to lose sight of that.
    I’m excited by the changes so far with more to come.
    Don’t give up on B&N. We have a talented and smart CEO at the helm. He’ll get us back on track. And authors can be rest assured there will be a place for them there. I’m counting on it.

  13. I think Tucson has one Barnes and Noble? We never go there, though. Instead, we frequent the three thriving Bookman’s, which is a used bookstore and other used stuff store. We’ve found all kinds of super rare books there, like the Myst novels, and signed limited editions of classics like Trumpet of the Swan. The place is a treasure trove. I think we shop more at Bookman’s than at anyplace other than the grocery store.

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