I would continually look up a bookstore that had been around for decades just to find it had recently closed its doors for the last time. Many privately owned bookstores, both iconic and small-time, have had to do just that in the last decade or so. Many of them have been shoved out of the market by large chain bookstores like Barnes and Noble or online booksellers such as Amazon. They have also been badly hurt by the recent popularity of e-books and e-readers like the Kindle. These things, along with a steady loss of interest in reading precipitated by the popularity of motion pictures and television and a lack of focus on that skill in our schools, have made so many great bookstores that people have known and loved for years go out of business. While working on this project, I have read numerous tales of people who had been going to these stores for years; it really breaks my heart to know that they are now gone forever.
I remember one person talking about how he had been going to a specific bookstore since his childhood. He would hang out there all the time and knew the people who had worked there; he even knew the cat that had lived there for years, and he used to play with it whenever he went there. But that store went bankrupt a few years ago and had to close. I kept on reading story after story like that until I was on the verge of tears; these bookstores can be such welcoming and intimate places that when they close down, it’s like a close friend has died. This has affected many places even in the Bay Area. Iconic stores like Cody’s and almost all of the Black Oak branches, and smaller more specialized stores like Mama Bears, A Different Light and Get Lost have all closed within the past ten years or so.
I urge all of you reading this to go to your favorite local bookstore and support them through these tough times. You never know, you could pass by the storefront of a bookstore you have loved for years but have not recently gone to and find that it is now nothing but an empty space.