Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lamenting the Closing of Another Independent Bookstore

By Beth Groundwater

I am still absorbing the sad news of the closing of the last bookstore in my new hometown, Breckenridge, Colorado. It is an independent bookstore that has been a long-time (26 years) local institution and supporter of Colorado authors: Weber's Books & Drawings. It's one of about 500 independent bookstores that have closed in the past decade, but this closing is especially tough for us Breckenridge residents because Weber's is our only bookstore.

Owners Jolanta and Charles Weber have become friends, and I sympathize with their desire to retire and enjoy some relaxation away from the pressures of running their own business. They had tried to find a buyer for the store for a couple of years, but with no takers, they made the reluctant decision to close the store and are selling off their inventory at 35% off list prices.

Jolanta and Charles have been actively hand-selling my books even before I made Breckenridge my full-time home. They sold over seventy copies of my To Hell in a Handbasket title that is set in Breckenridge, and they have displayed two shelves of my autographed titles on an end-cap that faces the front door of the store. I'm definitely going to miss having that local showcase!

And its not just Breckenridge residents and Colorado authors who are lamenting the store closing. Visitors to our area who return year after year have been coming in to say their goodbyes to Jolanta and Charles. Some customers have cried. We will all miss the personal touch they brought to selecting just the right books for our reading tastes. A great article about the closing, including a photo of the store owners was included in the Summit Daily News.

Below is a photo from a signing of To Hell in a Handbasket that Weber's hosted. The woman with me is Jolanta Weber. Notice that she even dressed in colors to match the book cover. What a businesswoman! I was hoping to have a signing for my May release, Wicked Eddies, at Weber's, but now I'll have to find another local venue.


How about you? Do you have a favorite nearby bookstore? Or did you have one, and it's now closed? How do you feel about the recent trend of bookstore closings?

20 comments:

Sheila Webster Boneham said...

Condolences, Beth. Bookstore closings are indeed very sad. One of the saddest for me was when Jim Huang closed The Mystery Company, with an obvious specialty, just outside Indianapolis. I am fortunate now to live in a town with 3 independent bookstores, a couple of used bookstores, and a chain bookstore as well, and I support the independents as much as possible as a writer and as a reader. My favorites are Pomegranate Books, Two Sisters Bookery, and Front Street Books, all in Wilmington, NC.

Mario said...

The closing of a bookstore is always sad. When I lived in Lewisville, TX, there was a favorite bookstore that would order books for me (way pre-Amazon) and regretfully the store is long gone.

Bob said...

I lament the lose of independent writers every day. We always hear about bookstores, never about the writer whose contract is not renewed.

Just something to consider.

Michelle Black said...

OMG--this is shocking news! I loved Webers Books. The Webers were such great supporters of my writing. And as a fellow bookstore owner, I used to run into them every year at BookExpo America.
This is a big loss for Breckenridge. :(
It was a wonderful store.

--Michelle Black
www.TheVictorianWest.com

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks, Sheila, Mario, Bob, and Michelle, for your comments. Yes,

Sheila, I, too, lamented the closing of The Mystery Company, even though I never walked into the store itself. I ordered books from Jim and bought at conferences.

Yes, Bob, writing is a tough business, especially during the recession, when publishers were cutting back and tightening purse strings.

Yes, Michelle, losing Weber's is not just a big loss for Breckenridge, but also for Colorado authors who made it one of their stops on signing tours.

Msmstry said...

It's always sad to lose an independent bookstore. I think we all need to consider where we shop for everything and keep our local indies in business.

Susan J Tweit said...

Beth, I'm so sorry to hear that Webers is closing! That is a loss.

We vote with our dollars, and if we don't "vote" for our local bookstores, they won't stay open. I feel fortunate to have The Book Haven, now expanded and better than ever, here in Salida.

Beth Groundwater said...

Have people heard about the new Cash Mob trend, where Cash Mobs form to support local businesses, swarm in during a pre-arranged time slot and each spend $20 there? I think we readers/writers should organize some Cash Mobs to support our local independent bookstores!

Terry Ambrose said...

The independents are always good to writers, but when people prefer to grab the best deal on Amazon, what are they going to do? San Diego is fortunate to have two independents that support mystery writers, Mysterious Galaxy and Warwick's.

Robin Allen said...

Nice tribute to Webers Books, Beth. Our world is changing much too fast.

Alan Orloff said...

I'm fortunate. Two independent bookstores in my general area have OPENED in the last year or so. Both are terrific and very supportive of local authors: One More Page Books in North Arlington/Falls Church, VA, and Novel Books in Clarksburg, MD. So there is hope!

Beth Groundwater said...

I agree, Alan, that you are fortunate. There are a lot of great independent bookstores in the Washington, DC area. I've signed at One More Page Books and had a great time there. Love their chocolate and wine selections, too. :)

Julie Golden said...

Ah, darn! Webers Books was a favorite place to visit whenever we were in Breckenridge. I'd like to believe that I left my share to tourist dollars with them. Retail is a tough business model – they ran a good shop. Sorry for you, Beth, and for the community of Breckenridge.

Erin said...

I was stunned when the Tattered Cover, my hometown bookstore, left their Cherry Creek location (many years ago--and I understood why they did it, given the lease terms). I don't know what I'd do if they ever closed entirely. Fortunately, their outpost on East Colfax seems to be thriving!

It's a pity about Weber's, though.

jenny milchman said...

I am saddened to hear this news about Weber's in your town, Beth. I would add, though, that the recent trend of bookstores closing is actually experiencing a reversal. Independent bookstores are opening--some in the places Borders literally left behind--and thriving all across this country. My hope is that as we become increasingly digitized, the unique pleasure of spending face to face time among people and physical books grows ever more valued.

If people are saddened by bookstores closing, please shop at the nearest bookstore, make the extra effort to support authors and booksellers--and check out Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day to be part of introducing kids in your life to the joys of time spent in a bookstore :)

G.M. Malliet said...

Beth - is this the store you and I corresponded about at some point? Very sorry to hear it. I'm planning a "book tour"--really a loosely organized meander across the U.S. But it's getting harder to plan such a thing these days. This e-Book thing will all shake out one day but we're in for a rocky ride until then, as readers and writers.

PennyS said...

What are they doing with the books? Did they sell the books to another bookstore? Are they opening the store elsewhere? Did I miss that info in your article?

Nancy Lynn Jarvis said...

We in the Santa Cruz area lost one last year (after 33 years) and two Borders as well. The good news...great news...is that one of the Borders was taken over by employees and reopened as an indie.
We have several indies in the Santa Cruz area and no chains, which my be why the indies are surviving.

Also, I know if another indie that recently opened a second store. There's hope.

Heidiwriter said...

I was sad when our local indie bookstore, Scott's Books, closed before my first book was published. I'd always envisioned having my launch party there. We now have a primarily-used bookstore, The Tattered Page, that does support local authors and carries our new books, helps us with signings, etc.

Ann Parker said...

Oh boy, so many have closed... locally, we all mourned when M is for Mystery departed. Luckily, there is a little indie close to home, called Towne Center Books. A couple of brick 'n mortar Colorado bookstore faves such as Black Cat Book (Manitou Springs) and The Book Mine (Leadville) are still going. Long may they thrive!