October 26, 2011
Another One Bites the Dust
On my drive to work yesterday, I spotted the clearance signs inside the Barnes & Noble in the Westside Pavilion at the corner of Pico and Westwood. This morning, Kevin Roderick confirmed the bad news at LAobserved.com — the store at the Westside Pavilion is closing soon.
Another one bites the dust.
The closing of a single Barnes & Noble location can hardly be compared to the collapse of the Borders chain, which took out two Borders stores located not far away and hundreds of other stores across the country. But the steady shrinkage of the brick-and-mortar book business is a sure sign that bookstores are suffering the same fate that befell music stores; sooner rather than later, we will be buying most of our books online.
It’s an especially bad sign that the Westside Pavilion location is closing. It’s hard to imagine a more favorable site for a bookstore — a prominent corner with unmatched street visibility, plenty of parking, and a constant stream of browsers from the Landmark Theatres, whose lobby is located next to Barnes & Noble on two separate floors.
I suspect that a few specialty bookstores will survive and even thrive. Children’s Book World, for example, is still open and welcoming young readers and their parents only a few blocks east on Pico Boulevard. But the “destination” bookstore — a venue for author appearances, a place for social networking in the flesh, and a lively gathering place for kids doing their homework, screenwriters churning out their scripts, and office-less entrepreneurs — is going the way of the brontosaurus.
We are witnessing a sea-change in the way books are published and sold, and nothing can or will be done to stop it. Some aspects of the change are good for authors, publishers and readers. But the face-to-face and hands-on quality of the book business appears to be gone forever.
Jonathan Kirsch, author and publishing attorney, is book editor of The Jewish Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.