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A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

closing time

News is trickling out here and there of bookstores that are set to close after the holidays or even before.

Here in New York, there's a big flagship Barnes & Noble by Lincoln Center that will be closing after a 15-year run with the expiration of its lease. A fashion discounter called Century 21 quickly leased the entire space.

Joseph Beth booksellers has filed Chapter 11, and will be closing half its stores. They owe millions of dollars to Ingram, hundreds of thousands of dollars to Random House, and more. This is a real shame. I went to Pittsburgh a few years ago when Brandon Sanderson did a signing at their store in Pittsburgh that will be closing. It was a great store with great staff.

Joseph Beth shares some lineage with Borders. In the dawn of time at Borders in the 1980s, Borders licensed its inventory system and may have even done warehouse fulfillment for some independent bookstores in the midwest, and if memory serves Davis-Kiss was among the chains they were doing this for. Joseph Beth purchased Davis Kidd several years ago and a DK location is among those closing as a result of the bankruptcy filing.

And in Charlotte, NC both a Joseph Beth and a Borders will be closing.

Besides Charlotte, I'm sad to see that the Thousand Oaks, CA Borders which was my 200th visited is closing down. Word is also coming out of store closings in West Windsor/Princeton Junction NJ and Bloomington IN. Their store on Chicago's Michigan Ave. will close, but this is one year later than originally planned after a last-minute lease extension. One write-up in Publishers Marketplace said Borders may be closing two dozen stores, but I'm not finding that many with the news already out.

The early and mid 1990s were peak times for opening superstores, so with 15 year leases from 1996 and years of declining sales, no real surprise Borders has real estate that it can't justify keeping. But it's sad.

On a happier Borders note, Borders does have 25 "pop-up" Borders Express stores in place for the holidays, full list in their press release here. This is a very good idea, to take advantage of the peak holiday shopping season and empty space at the local mall to broaden reach profitably.

With the Thousand Oaks Borders closing, good news that a nearby Barnes & Noble in Calabasas, CA that had been threatened with closure ended up having a new lease agreed upon. That has the same landlord as the B&N in Encino, CA, where the neighborhood protested its replacement by a CVS. This may be the B&N where Alan Ball found a copy of DEAD UNTIL DARK while waiting for a dentist appointment, so I'm particularly saddened that a historic site may be going. There's a store in southern Ft. Worth that appears to be on the way out. Will that help the Borders that's up the street a bit, i.e., can some of these store closings help those that remain or are we all doomed? And also a B&N in Hobart, IN, and one in Fremont, CA that is across the street from a Borders that could no doubt use a business boost.

And updating this on November 19 2010, thanks to a report in Publishers Marketplace, they have gotten confirmation from Borders that approximately 17 stores will be closing. They don't yet have details on all, but have confirmed additional locations in Marlton, NJ; Westwood, Santa Barbara and Carlsbad, CA; and Overland Park, KS. According to the Borders website, the Overland Park store was #23 and had been around for over 17 years, so likely similar for Marlton (#26). The Santa Barbara store was #123, so that would also have been around quite a while. I'm going to do a separate post about the Borders in Westwood.


Anonymous said...

What a shame. Bookstores beat internet browsing any day.

Unknown said...

It truly amazes me the research you put into your blog. I live in DFW and hadn't heard about the Fort Worth store closing. And I can't recall if it's one of the ones you and I visited last April (but with your razor-sharp memory, I'm sure you recall).