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Wed Feb 13, 2013, 02:12 AM

Tampa Bay Times Bill Maxwell laments "slow death of bookstores." I'm with him on that. [View all]

I was raised in a family of readers. When we were younger our parents took us at least once a week to the library. We visited local book stores. Books were part of our lives.

Bill Maxwell is a favorite columnist, and his column made me remember a recent event.

I like hardback books. I have a lot of them, and I usually give them to the public library once or twice a year. For a change I thought I would see if a used book store would be interested since I give them away for free.

I called a couple of them, told them they were bestsellers, like new, great condition. I was told people no longer wanted hardback books anymore, and only a few more wanted paperback. They did not stock them anymore. I was shocked over that. And saddened.

Maxwell's column hit home.

Slow death of bookstores is heartbreaking

The world I love and enjoy most is shrinking.

Corporate or independent or public or whatever, I don't care. Show me a bookstore and I'll find a dozen reasons to love it and spend a few or a lot of dollars. My world is shrinking because each year, bookstores are shutting down without being replaced.

A little more than a year after Borders shuttered its 411 remaining stores, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, long the nation's largest chain, has announced it plans to close at least 20 stores a year for the next decade. The Wall Street Journal reports that since 2003, Barnes & Noble closed an average of 15 stores a year but opened about 30 a year, many on college campuses. Last year, though, it shut down 14 stores and opened no new ones.

All book lovers have a favorite store. Mine was the eclectic Borders in Fort Lauderdale, my hometown. It had one of the best, if not the best, locations of any bookstore in the country. It was on Sunrise Boulevard on the Intracoastal Waterway that flows into the Atlantic Ocean. I would make my purchase, get something to drink and find a spot beneath an umbrella on the water. I would read and watch yachts head toward the ocean. Sometimes I would take a water taxi to downtown and back.

That store is gone. It closed more than a year ago. Whenever I go to Fort Lauderdale, I drive past the building out of habit. I feel miserable each time. An old friend is dead and cannot be replaced.


I plan to keep buying hardback books as long as I can find them. Our bookstores here are limited in nature, most Christian fundamental types. Our library is different now, they don't have funds to restock as they used to do.

There is still a place for books in our world for people like me and Bill Maxwell. I think there may be many others who feel that way.

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Reply Tampa Bay Times Bill Maxwell laments "slow death of bookstores." I'm with him on that. [View all]
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