Where Have All the Bookstores Gone?

For years in my hometown of Yonkers, New York, there has been a Waldenbooks in the Cross County Shopping Center (so old that it pre-dates malls). I've done a few very successful book sigings there during visits to town. I was so disappointed to learn that store was closed in the last year. Whoever heard of a major shopping center without a bookstore?

Another place where I've signed with success was the Waldenbooks in Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis (known in the local vernacular as "The Black Mall." When I was down there a few weeks back I noticed that J.C. Penney and Sears were both gone (these are, of course, staples in most malls). That prepared me, so when I went inside to get my eyebrows threaded I wasn't all that surprised to see Waldenbooks gone and a Hip Hop Fashion in its place. Again, given the general deterioration of the mall (which has lost all of its anchors the last few years, although it is still reasonably clean and well-kept), I wasn't all that surprised.

The B. Dalton in downtown Jacksonville, Florida, where I also did very well with the lunchtime crowd, closed quite a while ago, when I was still living there. It was replaced by a discounter of older titles that had overstock, but at least there are books being sold there.

Finally, the Waldenbooks inside Regency Mall in Racine, Wisconsin, closed its doors in January of this year, leaving yet another mall with no bookstore.

I read that Borders (who owns Waldenbooks) and Barnes & Noble (parent of B. Dalton) both wanted to concentrate on their larger stores, but regardless, I miss the smaller but well-stocked stores in the local mall. The book superstores are usually in strip malls that I wouldn't normally visit otherwise. My town has no bookstore; my one complaint about what is otherwise a perfect environment for me at this stage of my life. I have to either drive across the border to Gurnee, Illinois to go to Borders (about 17 miles each way) or drive north to Racine to go to the Barnes & Noble up there (about 12 miles). But if this is the trend, it doesn't look like my town will be getting a smaller bookstore anytime soon.

How close - or far - is your neighborhood bookstore? Does your local mall still have a bookstore, or has it closed?


Katrina Spencer said...

My neighborhood bookstore (Barnes and Noble) is about a mile away. It stays busy and I've always gotten great service there.
So far so good on the mall front, the two malls nearest me still have bookstores. (I live in Houston.)
Although I like the smaller bookstores I have to admit I frequent the mega-bookstores more often. My husband can grab a cup of coffee at the Starbucks while I wander around the aisles picking up a few of my favorite authors.
I think smaller businesses in general are in trouble, not just bookstores. You see mom-and-pop shops everywhere closing down because they can't compete with the conglomerates around them. I guess it's just a sign of the times.

bettye griffin said...

I used to live 1 mile away from a B&N, too, when I lived in Jacksonville. You brought back memories, Katrina! And good point about small businesses in general. We live in a super size society these days.

PatriciaW said...

Borders recently announced the closing of the remaining Waldenbooks outlets.

I've got to drive a bit to get to a Borders or a B&N, probably why I don't stop in to them too often. And there's an independent bookstore in town I've been meaning to visit--also a ways away. I have to make a concerted effort.

DonnaD said...

I typically only shop at two or three malls: The Plaza in Evergreen Park has only one bookstore (it's Christian and used to be owned by my church) but the Borders is on 95th street (where we met!); River Oaks in Lansing has a Waldenbooks; Lincoln Mall in Matteson has none (I think) but the Borders is just up the road in the strip mall where we had lunch. I miss the days of having choices: B. Dalton, Waldenbooks, Krochs & Brentanos, Crown, etc. Now with the conglomeration of bookstores, there's little choice.

Shelia said...

There's a nice mall in my neighborhood but guess what--no bookstore. They closed the book store down years ago. I have to travel about 8 or 10 miles to get to B&N, the only book store in my city. If I want to go to Borders or Booksamillion, I have to cross the river and go to the stores in our twin city.

Sad to say, if B&N doesn't have it, it's just cheaper for me to order it online.

bettye griffin said...

It sounds as if the days of the mall bookstore are ending. And that's really scary news about Waldenbooks. Part of me wants to call the store in the train station in downtown Chicago to inquire. I can't imagine all those people in that skyscraper above the bookstore plus the ones around with no bookstore clear to Michigan Avenue.

Thanks for posting, all!

Ladysilver said...

I live near Avenues Mall in JVille. I remember there being a Wladens with I 1st moved here because I used my discount card. Now I shop at Borders most often. Books a Million is the second place I go and Barnes and Nobles is really the last. Main reason is Borders is closer, and Borders rewards program is free where as BAM and B&N cost. I have my BAM card current, but B&N is just a little too much money for my taste to join their loyalty program.

My dream was always to open a bookstore. That sure seems like a thing of the past now.