I thought that this was a disturbing piece of information that I discovered via the Powell’s Books blog: Big city left with no bookstore. The story is that Barnes & Noble closed the B. Dalton’s Bookstore (B. Dalton’s? Seriously? I had no idea that those stores still existed) that was in a mall in Laredo, Texas. The trouble is, this Dalton’s was the only bookstore remaining in Laredo! It seems a bit strange to me, of course. I live outside a town of about 7,000 people which has a bookstore, and I work in a town of 8,000 people (though, admittedly the population probably doubles during the day due to it being the state capital) that has at least 4 bookstores that I am aware of. So imagining a place of 250,000 people not having a bookstore (in fact, seemingly it is about 150 miles now for them to go to the nearest bookstore) is a bit hard to do.
Even though everything is reporting that it was the only bookstore in town, I can’t help but imagine that there must be at least a few used bookstores there. Doesn’t every place have some old feller sitting behind a counter selling musty old hardcovers? Anyway, it is disturbing for a number of reasons. It implies, of course, that there is scarily little interest in books in Laredo, also that there is little interest there in supporting local businesses (as I imagine that thousands of people in Laredo probably buy books, they just do it online). While those are both sad, I think that this part of the story is the most disturbing:
Barnes & Noble says it closed the Laredo store as part of an overall strategy to shut down the chain of mall-based bookstores. Even though the Laredo store was profitable, the overall chain was losing money, according to company officials.
So Laredo lost its bookstore, not because the population didn’t support the store by buying enough books to keep the store profitable, but because the store didn’t fit into the “strategy” of the multi-national chain that owned it. Talk about being at the mercy of corporations. You’d think that if it had a profitable customer base, the company could at least have remodeled it and reopened it as a Barnes & Noble.