I live in a darn educated city, and bookstores are plentiful. Seems like the recession’s been bad for them, however: I just learned that the New England Mobile Bookfair, a behemoth of a bookstore that’s been around for 50 years, is up for sale. Rodney’s Bookstore has been in an indefinite store closing mode for several months; plans to close the Central Square institution at the end of the year may be on hold.
As a former bookseller myself and a frequent supporter, I worry about the disappearance of these institutions. Not only do bookstores–and used bookstores in particular–provide a purchase point for us consumers, but bookstores are community spaces, solitude- and sanity-keepers, a refuge for those of us readers with short attention spans who leap-frog from one book to the next.
Counter to the trend of receding bookstore business is the hopeful story of The Strand. Whenever I’m in New York, I drop by this literary landmark and their 18 miles of books. Founded as a book stall more than 80 years ago, The Strand is still owned by the Bass family and owns its building.
Makes you wonder: Do booksellers make good businessmen? Why are we always lamenting the death of the indie bookstore?