In Mourning

February 10, 2010

First of all, I know that I’m behind schedule. I’ll get some more posts up this week.

Right now, though, what’s on my mind is sort of a crisis in my area.

The Waldenbooks store in the Lilac Mall (Rochester, NH) just closed. This is deeply saddening for a couple of reasons. First of all, there is no longer a full-service bookstore in our area.

In Farmington, there is a little shop in someone’s house that’s open about four hours per week. I haven’t ever been there.

In Rochester, there is a comic book store and a used book store. While Jetpack and Annie’s serve their purposes (and I go to both), neither offers what I could get at Waldenbooks.

The closest conventional book store? There’s an independent book store in Wolfeboro (a little more than half an hour away from my house), though I confess that I haven’t been there. The next choice is the Barnes and Noble in Portsmouth. The next real city to Rochester is Dover, which once had the Little Professor and Stroudwater Books … each closed long ago.

Portsmouth is a solid 40 minutes away, if I take both toll booths. According to one of the associates formerly of that store (who now works at McDonald’s), the Lilac Mall store had actually done pretty well. It beat its sales goals and was doing pretty well in comparisons to previous years.

Borders, though, which owns Waldenbooks, chose to close stores simply to downsize. They’re focusing on the online sales side of the business, and they expect not to lose too much in sales.

I’m not sure how that’s true, since they were the only game in town before, and now they’re on equal footing with Barnes and Noble and Amazon. (If you pretend that Amazon isn’t the first site one thinks of when considering online book sales.)

As a personal note, I miss Waldenbooks particularly because that has always been my book store. Not necessarily that location, but that store. When my family lived in Lubbock, Texas it was at Waldenbooks that I bought my Hardy Boys books. Waldenbooks was my first book store, and I’ve always had more than a small allegiance to it.

I am among those who thinks that online book shopping can never replace the book store or the library. The idea of browsing book shelves, examining covers and thumbing through pages is important to me and an important part of really being a book lover. Amazon simply can’t offer that.

So, there we are. Certainly not a crisis in the real sense of the word, but a loss nonetheless.