Got literacy?
January 22, 2010 2:55 PM   Subscribe

As of last week, Barnes and Noble closed the B.Dalton outlet in Laredo's Mall del Norte. This leaves the city of 250,000 the largest city in the USA without a bookstore.

Barnes and Noble is closing B.Dalton stores across the country -- including the one in Laredo, open for thirty years -- and assures concerned citizens that it has its eyes on a site for a large-format Barnes and Noble which could open as soon as 2011; the Laredo Morning Times is hopeful in this regard. In the meantime, the nearest bookstore will be in San Antonio, 150 miles away.

Note: a Google search for "laredo bookstore" does bring up a gospel bookstore, so all is not lost. Right? Right?
posted by ricochet biscuit (116 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
What y'readin' for?
posted by Artw at 2:56 PM on January 22, 2010 [21 favorites]


They seem to have a library, so all is not lost.
posted by jquinby at 2:57 PM on January 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


The marginal civic and intellectual utility of having a B. Dalton is not that much higher than not having a bookstore at all.

Library with 20,000 titles? That matters a little bit more.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 2:58 PM on January 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


They have Walmarts and Targets in Laredo, don't they?

There are actually 3 Walmarts in Laredo, which sell new releases, and two library branches, which stock both new and older books. I love a good bookstore, but this article makes the situation seem much dire than it actually is.
posted by muddgirl at 3:00 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


As long as they have an internet provider I think they'll be just fine.
posted by cell divide at 3:01 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Walmarts and Targets

Dear god...
posted by Artw at 3:02 PM on January 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


This is good news for trees!
posted by found missing at 3:02 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I guess this is a side effect of having a large state with a spread out population. When something closes, the next option is 100 miles away.
posted by smackfu at 3:04 PM on January 22, 2010


I think our town of ~28k people is also out of a secular bookstore now too, since B. Dalton closed.
posted by cellphone at 3:05 PM on January 22, 2010


Yes yes yes, we all know the horrors of the modern low-quality all-goods store.

But honestly, is a B. Dalton any better? I submit: No.
posted by muddgirl at 3:06 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Similar to l33tpolicywonk, I'll argue that if B. Dalton is the only bookstore in your city, you live in a city with no bookstores.

Amazon and ABE will ship to Laredo, right?
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:08 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Doesn't any computer in Laredo have access to the best-stocked bookstore on the planet?

Yes, I know that nothing beats browsing at a bookstore. But it's not like the fine people of this city will not be able to ever buy a book again.
posted by hippybear at 3:10 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


The hand wringing over the death of literacy seems ill founded. Isn't this more about internet vs. bricks-and-mortar and Wal*Mart vs. all comers?
posted by mr_roboto at 3:11 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Won't anyone think of the kitten calendars??
posted by swift at 3:11 PM on January 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


Here's why they closed. No more B. Dalton ever.
posted by Xurando at 3:12 PM on January 22, 2010


Here's why they closed. No more B. Dalton ever.

Holy shit. That's the worst headline ever written.

"The last of the B. Daltons, which once numbered almost 800, close this month, including the first, at Southdale.

Sooooo bad.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:15 PM on January 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


This is a terrifying eventuality I'd never considered.
posted by cmoj at 3:17 PM on January 22, 2010


Neither libraries nor Walmart are good substitutes for a real book store. What if you want to buy a cookbook or a dictionary? This closure will be responsible for bad food, poor spelling, and miscellaneous other everyday tragedies.
posted by ryanrs at 3:19 PM on January 22, 2010


In my profession, when they want you to quit, they transfer you to Stoneville, Mississippi. That used to scare me. Thanks to Amazon.com and Netflix, I am no longer afraid.
posted by acrasis at 3:19 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


How far will these people have to drive to get to a Tower Records?
posted by found missing at 3:20 PM on January 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


Gosh! they might have to go online and buy books for less money via the Net.
story: I had to stop at my small-town local library. A lady, angry, stormed out the front door. Yelled at me that all the computers had gone offline and all you could do at the library was read books or newspapers or magazines. I told her that was the original purpose of libraries and she ought to give it a try.
posted by Postroad at 3:21 PM on January 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


Holy crap, I had no idea B. Dalton was still around. That (and "stop upselling me a membership" Waldenbooks) was about the only thing that brought me into malls in the 1980s.
posted by crapmatic at 3:38 PM on January 22, 2010


I love book stores.

For me, reading a book will never be supplanted by electronic means, as electronics simply lack the tactile sensations that come with books.

Part of the pleasure of reading is the scent of a book and turning its pages.
posted by bwg at 3:39 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


WHERE WILL THEY GET THEIR BIBLES?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:47 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh I'm sure they're all reading constantly on their kindles.
posted by washburn at 3:48 PM on January 22, 2010


WHERE WILL THEY GET THEIR BIBLES?

Hotels?
posted by GuyZero at 3:48 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


We're so jaded. We think that B. Dalton is some kind of inferior bookstore, only because we've just lived through two decades of Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and their like. But anytime before the mid-1980s, you'd've been pathetically grateful to have anything stocked a well as a B. Dalton outside of a downtown or outside New York City. Even the legendary post-war Fifth Avenue bookstores like Doubleday and Scribners had a pathetic inventory compared to today's Borders or Barnes & Noble. Not to mention the newstands at these respective stores. (If you walked into a bookstore in 1973 and saw the selection of magazines -- from the popular to the obscure -- on sale at a Borders or Barnes & Noble in the crummiest little town in America today, you'd have wet your pants. Just today I was in our suburban Borders and noticed that their selection of small and obscure literary and scholarly magazines is superior to that of the hippest Bleeker Street and West Village bookstores of the 1960s and 70s. The average B. Dalton of 2005 in West Virginia probably had as wide, broad and numerous an inventory as the best new book store in the country in 1969. The big-box bookstores began what is a true golden age of book buying and selling. You gotta appreciate what a giant leap forward it was in book availability. And of course, the arc of development being what it is in all things, the art of the bookstore reached its apogee just before it was rendered irrelevant by a succeeding technology: Amazon and the internet. So don't scorn your little and now late B. Dalton. B. Dalton sold a lot of crap. But they also sold the very best of today's and yesterday's books. The one near my house in the early 90s had that complete set of Trollope from the Trollope Society on the shelf. I said to myself, "When I've read all that, and read every other worthwhile book in this store, THEN I'll look down on B. Dalton."
posted by Faze at 3:48 PM on January 22, 2010 [74 favorites]


In the meantime, the nearest bookstore will be in San Antonio, 150 miles away.

Nearest American bookstore, maybe. There are plenty of Mexican ones just down the street.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:49 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


How far will these people have to drive to get to a Tower Records?

December 22, 2006.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:49 PM on January 22, 2010 [8 favorites]


Of course, this is the perfect opportunity for somebody to invest in themselves and their community by opening a nice little independent bookstore or even a secondhand bookstore with some good connections. Hell, call it "Community Books" and staff it with volunteers.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:49 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not to be that guy, but are there seriously no independent secular bookstores in Laredo? No half-price-books-type deals? I find that difficult to believe.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:50 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoa, great minds.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:50 PM on January 22, 2010


You know, they wouldn't have closed if they were doing business.
It seems that Laredo residents just don't like reading (or buying) books.
posted by Balisong at 3:52 PM on January 22, 2010


Um...what about all the bookstores that are closing in cities that aren't Laredo?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:54 PM on January 22, 2010


> Library with 20,000 titles? That matters a little bit more.

Please tell me you dropped a zero.
posted by Decimask at 3:54 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sure...Walmart, Amazon, etc.

I haven't been to Laredo, so my comment isn't informed. But it leaves one with the general impression that supply isn't the issue, more that there is an implied lack of demand. It seems pretty amazing that apparently nobody feels a dollar can be made serving a reading community.

I know small independent booksellers are struggling everywhere, even in places that pride themselves on their literary communities. But doesn't it seem to be true that wherever there exists zero of something, that there would be room in the marketplace for ONE? Perhaps not 10 or 20 like you would expect in a city of that size (250K!), but not even one of the non-christian variety?

Bookstores are an experience, not just a book store. It says something that there must not be a demand for that experience. I just hope it doesn't say what it seems to say.
posted by nickjadlowe at 4:00 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't they have Kindles?
posted by Slap Factory at 4:01 PM on January 22, 2010


I'm not looking down on B. Dalton. I'm pointing out that Walmart and Target have a wide range of new books and best-sellers.

But I don't really buy books anymore, and I have come to hate the modern bookstore, where I have to guess at a genre and guess at the author, and if I can't find it on the shelf I have to wonder if they have it or if I'm looking in the wrong place - maybe it's at an end-aisle display or the "book of the month" that month or in the discount section. And there are never any handy terminals like my library has had since 1996. And I hate that books cost nearly $30 if it's in hardback (and it's always in hardback). And $15 paperbacks?? And I'm going to bring the book home and read it and have nowhere to put it and can't give it away because all my friends have library cards or Kindles.

Not to mention that if I'm just browsing, there's no reliable indicator of quality beyond the staff recommendations and those weird guys who always offer their opinion about whatever book you've picked off the shelf because it has a nice spine.

So yeah, I'm a booklover and yet I haven't stepped foot into a bookstore since... well OK, I went at Christmas because my in-laws are very specific about gifts. But before that it hadn't been since the previous Christmas.
posted by muddgirl at 4:03 PM on January 22, 2010


I spent a lot of time in Laredo once.

The only book I'd need if I lived there would be an assisted suicide manual.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:05 PM on January 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


*shrug* Sounds like a business opportunity for someone.
posted by codswallop at 4:05 PM on January 22, 2010


However, they do have that internet thingy there.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:05 PM on January 22, 2010


Neither libraries nor Walmart are good substitutes for a real book store. What if you want to buy a cookbook or a dictionary?

What? You can find both of those at either Walmart or a library. This comment doesn't even make sense.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:11 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is a terrifying eventuality I'd never considered.

This would seem to actually be an excellent opportunity for an entrepreneur to step in and fill the vacuum. Bookstores can be magnets for tourists, or can form the nucleus for a vibrant neighbourhood. A small town near where I live has branded itself as a "book town", and it's fantastic.

Sidney probably is home to 15,000 people, yet there are 12 independent bookstores. All are unique and worth visiting, and it makes Sidney (until recently though of as an extremely boring retirement community) a great place to spend a weekend afternoon.

Laredo sounds like a typically hellish exurb, but there must be someplace to locate a cluster of bookstores that would attract residents of Laredo, or even people from outside of the area.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:11 PM on January 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Nickjadlowe is right - bookshops are cultural venues, places where booklovers can meet each other and authors and be exposed to new reading experiences. There are a lot of things that can happen in a bookstore that can't happen on Amazon (much as I like Amazon). However, independent stores are a lot better able to build literary communities than chains.
posted by WPW at 4:14 PM on January 22, 2010


I'm pointing out that Walmart and Target have a wide range of new books and best-sellers.

No, they don't. They have a bunch of paperbacks they buy in bulk and one or two new releases that are bestsellers.

The other books are what Wal-mart thinks Moms will buy, mostly Glenn Beck and inspirational works. As a Mom, I find this incredibly condescending.
posted by misha at 4:16 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


What? You can find both of those at either Walmart or a library.

They do indeed, but check out the online vs. in store availability on dictionaries. (274 vs. 20 - unless I'm reading that wrong)
posted by gman at 4:20 PM on January 22, 2010


A small town near where I live has branded itself as a "book town", and it's fantastic.

Oh my goodness, I so want to go to the Haunted Bookstore. Please tell me the walls inside are painted black (or at least dark gray).
posted by jabberjaw at 4:22 PM on January 22, 2010


"They do indeed, but..."

Apparently I don't got literacy. Heading out to Walmart now.
posted by gman at 4:26 PM on January 22, 2010


They do indeed, but check out the online vs. in store availability on dictionaries. (274 vs. 20 - unless I'm reading that wrong)

Okay, if the selection of dictionaries at Walmart doesn't cut it (though for most people, a MW pocket dictionary does the job fine), they can pick up (or look at, if it's a reference item) one of the 1200 items that come up with a search for "dictionary" at the Laredo public library.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:26 PM on January 22, 2010


Laredo sounds like a typically hellish exurb, but there must be someplace to locate a cluster of bookstores that would attract residents of Laredo, or even people from outside of the area.

It's a Mexican border town that's at least 150 miles away from any other form of civilization (on the US side).
posted by jal0021 at 4:29 PM on January 22, 2010


I used to make the 3 hour trip to Laredo just to buy books at that store. Granted, their selection was rather limited but it was so much better (and cheaper) than any bookstore in my hometown south of the border.

.
posted by elmono at 4:33 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: This comment doesn't even make sense.
posted by Rangeboy at 4:36 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been to Laredo a couple of times, and it's not exactly an oasis of culture.

Seriously, though, this part about no bookstores in Laredo is not true in the sense that the article implies. Texas A&M International University is in Laredo, and has a university bookstore with (according to this website) a general books section in addition to the usual textbooks, T-shirts, etc. A quick peek at superpages.com gives Books Trading and also
Mi Libreria.

But finally, as others have pointed out, the time of bookstores is over. Now, if Laredo didn't have internet access or a library, that would truly be a disaster, but that is clearly not the case here.
posted by math at 4:39 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Laredo sounds like a typically hellish exurb

Exurb? Seriously? Laredo is a good-sized city with a long and distinguished past going back to the mid-1700s. Ever hear of the song Streets Of Laredo?

There is nothing about Laredo which fits the definition of exurb.
posted by hippybear at 4:49 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fun facts about literacy and Texas:
  • Texas has slipped from 45th to last among states ranked by percent for citizens in 2005—age 25 and older—who have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Literacy programs in Texas are only serving 3.6% of the 3.8 million in need of adult basic education services.
  • Texas ranks 47 out 50 states, in terms of English literacy levels.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:53 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


As I walked out in the streets of Laredo
As I walked out in Laredo one day,
I spied a big street sign, a marquee and a billboard
But since I can't read I don't know what they say.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:57 PM on January 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


This FPP is clearly wrong, the yellow pages of Laredo list 6 bookshops.

Oops, wrong Laredo. That's the original town of Laredo in Northern Spain. Population: 12,500. 1/20th the size of Laredo, Texas. Either they haven't heard about the Internets (unlikely, considering the town's snazzy official website), or there's indeed something really wrong in having no bookshops left in a town of a quarter million people...
posted by Skeptic at 4:58 PM on January 22, 2010


Books Trading is investment books, not a used bookstore as I'd first assumed when doing the Google Maps thing. I don't know about Mi Libreria, this should be an opportunity for them.

You know, they wouldn't have closed if they were doing business.
It seems that Laredo residents just don't like reading (or buying) books.


Yeah, that's why B. Dalton's parent company Barnes & Noble is putting in a bookstore there in a couple years, and also why it was one of the last fifty stores in the entire B. Dalton chain to be closed.

And there are never any handy terminals like my library has had since 1996.

Barnes & Noble has these now if you don't like asking at the information desk; I think they are at last cultivating the patronage of fast-typing shoe-gazers. I think I saw one at Borders as well.

Not to mention that if I'm just browsing, there's no reliable indicator of quality beyond the staff recommendations and those weird guys who always offer their opinion about whatever book you've picked off the shelf because it has a nice spine.

How is this different from any other bookstore / on-line bookseller ever?
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:10 PM on January 22, 2010


But finally, as others have pointed out, the time of bookstores is over

Used bookstores seem to be thriving everywhere I travel (well, as much as they've ever thrived).
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:11 PM on January 22, 2010


Well, color me surprised. I didn't know Texans read.
posted by Davenhill at 5:18 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh my goodness, I so want to go to the Haunted Bookstore.

It's an amazing bookstore specializing mostly in used hardcovers and trade paperbacks. I swear, if I'm ever looking for a book, I go there first. I found a rare hardcopy edition of The Catalpa Bow there the first time I looked.

Used Patrick O'Brian books are very hard to find, but I went up to the Haunted Bookstore and someone had just dropped off their entire O'Brian collection, including Testimonies and his biography of Picasso.

And it's a small bookstore.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:26 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are other bookstores in Laredo and a couple on the other side of the river in Nuevo Laredo. There's a community college and a branch of Texas A&M both with bookstores that sell books other than just textbooks. So a better description of the situation as Laredo being the largest city in the United States without a giant bookstore chain.

If the economy were better Barnes and Nobel would have already opened there before the B.Dalton closed or if Borders was healthier they'd have a branch there. But times are pretty shitty in los dos Laredos with fewer tourists going to Nuevo Laredo due to the bad press from the narco wars. And the economy in Mexico being soft so there's not a lot of Mexican tourists going on shopping expeditions to the border cities (or because of the same narco wars chosing to cross at McAllen instead).

I'd also think with the giant hubs for FedEx and UPS in Laredo to handle the cross border shipping, people in Laredo ordering from Amazon will get books faster with standard shipping than someone in San Antonio. Also, the last time I there, they finally got on "the map" from AT&T and now have 3G!
Laredo sounds like a typically hellish exurb

Exurb? Seriously? Laredo is a good-sized city with a long and distinguished past going back to the mid-1700s. Ever hear of the song Streets Of Laredo ?

There is nothing about Laredo which fits the definition of exurb.
Perhaps the commenter above shouldn't have used exurb. But Laredo isn't a cultural mecca.

The downtown area that Cash sang of is dilapidated with lots of bordered up buildings and shit blowing in the streets.

So a rewrite: Laredo sounds like a typically hellish exurb strip of big box stores, chain restaurants and hotels that isn't really close to big city amenities like chain bookstores.
posted by birdherder at 5:54 PM on January 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


What pisses me off about walmart's book section is they have a christian religious section and right wing pundits but have nothing else. Nothing pertaining to any other religious or political belief. it seems rather presumptuous of their customers. really, no one else has ever set foot in a walmart? They are on almost every block, they are actually almost unavoidable at this point.
posted by djduckie at 6:02 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


From Xurando's link, B. Dalton's eternal claim to fame:

In the early 1970s, it was the only major bookseller in the country to use computers. As such, B. Dalton correctly anticipated in the summer of 1972 that an unassuming book, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," would become a blockbuster hit.

B. Dalton President Bruce Allbright said at the time that his buyers "took a deep breath" and ordered 70,000 copies of "Seagull" to stock the shelves for the holidays -- noting that an order of 10,000 was enough to put a book on the bestseller lists.

The gamble paid off. B. Dalton had plenty of the hot-selling inspirational book (priced at $4.95) while other booksellers ran out of stock.

posted by thejoshu at 6:07 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


The hand wringing over the death of literacy seems ill founded.

The what?
About what?

Are you sure you're in the right thread?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:16 PM on January 22, 2010


Well, color me surprised. I didn't know Texans read.

God, the condescension.
posted by smackfu at 6:27 PM on January 22, 2010 [15 favorites]


"Holy shit. That's the worst headline ever written."

Um. That's not the headline. That's the subheadline. The headline is "Closing the book on B. Dalton" and is at the top.
posted by autoclavicle at 6:38 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


What do you expect from a state whose unofficial motto lacks narrative and has no relatable characters?
posted by klangklangston at 7:02 PM on January 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


*shrug* Sounds like a business opportunity for someone.

That's just what I found myself thinking... a fantasy of moving to the town and opening a wonderful, welcoming bookstore with great selection took shape in my mind within .87 of a second. Then it occurred to me that to make this fantasy work I'd have to live in a large town in Texas and the fantasy came to a screeching halt.
posted by orange swan at 7:19 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not too far away, Corpus Christi only has one B&N, a used book shop, and that's it. And I would say barely 5% of its population even knows they exist.

Growing up outside DC, where there were dozens of bookstores within just a twenty mile radius of where I lived, coming to such an intellectually bankrupt town of this size still has not completely settled in yet.

Welcome to America. These are the towns where the Red States grow their base.
posted by dopamine at 7:41 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Um. That's not the headline. That's the subheadline. The headline is "Closing the book on B. Dalton" and is at the top.

Wow. Bad font design and shitty layout, too! Quite a sharp eye you've got there, noticing that lonely little "headline".
posted by mr_roboto at 7:43 PM on January 22, 2010


What pisses me off about walmart's book section is they have a christian religious section and right wing pundits but have nothing else. Nothing pertaining to any other religious or political belief. it seems rather presumptuous of their customers. really, no one else has ever set foot in a walmart?

Let's be honest with ourselves here: can you really imagine too many other demographics doing their book shopping at a Wal-Mart?
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:55 PM on January 22, 2010


Laredo sounds like a typically hellish exurb...

It's a Mexican border town that's at least 150 miles away from any other form of civilization (on the US side).


I'm not sure which is worse.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:11 PM on January 22, 2010


>
If you build it, they will come. Build a commie section, Walmart! Sell all the great elitist foods (arugula, Grey Poupon, quinoa), bulk condom boxes, and a bunch of GOOD books as well as leftist political stuff.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:11 PM on January 22, 2010


Am I the only person who finds it awkward to browse a bookstore? At the library, I don't have to think about prices (and subsequently money, that whole can of worms) or categories. I just look up the Dewey Decimal Number or author and I go. And I essentially own all the books already as a library member. I can spend hours there reading whatever I want, and it really feels like a home away from home.

A comercial bookstore may try to go for the same feeling, but at the end of the day, all the books have price stickers and they ultimately want you to make a purchase. And all the books are brand new, so I'm anxious that I might accidentally tear a page and need to buy the book. And if I sit down to read something, I feel like I'm somehow obligated to buy it, so I'm scared to do so. I guess a part of my mind can't forget that they're out to make a buck, rather than to try to live out their mission of educating and enriching the public consciousness.

That said, my library does not sell overpriced coffee. Next time I have five dollars burning a hole in my pocket, I might have to go to Borders and get a latte.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:18 PM on January 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


There are other bookstores in Laredo and a couple on the other side of the river in Nuevo Laredo.

An added bonus of visiting the ones in Nuevo Laredo: you get to brush up on your FPS skills along the way.
posted by Justinian at 8:23 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Build a commie section, Walmart! Sell all the great elitist foods (arugula, Grey Poupon, quinoa), bulk condom boxes

they actually do sell grey poupon and bulk condom boxes at walmart
posted by pyramid termite at 8:47 PM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Am I the only person who finds it awkward to browse a bookstore?

I find spending about 10 or 15 minutes browsing at a bookstore a great way to relieve stress.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:16 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hi. I'm the guy that actually puts out the new releases every Tuesday morning at Target. No, not in Laredo, in Milford, Massachusetts. Also, no; my Target (like your Target) is not a bookstore in the classical sense of the word, which carries books of all kinds, genres, and types. We do, though, sell a hell of a lot of books. I was surprised. Literacy will continue, and, in all likelihood, thrive. Ditto intellectual snobbery.
posted by yhbc at 10:04 PM on January 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


Laredo, Texas? There's no bookstores in Laredo? Weird.

My dad (retired from a large corporate business) owns a bookstore in upstate NY in a town with a population of about 5000. He has over 70,000 books in his store. He doesn't make a heck of a lot of money each year, but it's enough to pay the bills. Apparently, he loves books enough and the town loves books enough.

I wonder if McDonalds closed in Laredo if anyone would want hamburgers?
posted by Mike Buechel at 10:20 PM on January 22, 2010


they actually do sell grey poupon and bulk condom boxes at walmart
posted by padraigin at 10:25 PM on January 22, 2010


That is to say...

they actually do sell grey poupon and bulk condom boxes at walmart

...and also arugula (organic) at the one I sometimes shop at in Wisconsin in the summer.

I'm not sure about quinoa, but I got fish sauce there.
posted by padraigin at 10:27 PM on January 22, 2010


hippybear, i have to respectfully disagree with your online store recommendation. if you're going to buy books online, please, support a real honest to god bookstore.
posted by rainperimeter at 10:31 PM on January 22, 2010


rainperimeter: yes, I know all about Powells. Although I don't know what the catalog size comparison is between Powells and Amazon, and my statement was about it being the one with the largest selection. If you have numbers, I'll be glad to recant and change my opinion. I visit Powell's physical location every time I'm in Portland, which isn't much further away from me than Seattle, and is a hell of a lot nicer city IMO.

Build a commie section, Walmart! Sell all the great elitist foods (arugula, Grey Poupon, quinoa), bulk condom boxes

I'm as queer as a three dollar bill, but... condoms are an elitist food? Hmmm. That's dedication!
posted by hippybear at 10:54 PM on January 22, 2010


condoms are an elitist food? Hmmm.

Well of course, you wouldn't have heard of this.
posted by washburn at 11:27 PM on January 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


When the Dayton-Hudson (now Target) company owned B.Dalton it was still a decent chain.

They bought my grandfather's Pickwick chain in LA the year I was born, but didn't change those store names until the late 70's. My father wasn't willing to take over the business unless my uncle did too, but my uncle is an astrophysicist.

B&N shut down the site of the flagship Pickwick in the mid-90's.
posted by brujita at 12:36 AM on January 23, 2010


Fun facts about literacy and Texas:
* Texas has slipped from 45th to last among states ranked by percent for citizens in 2005—age 25 and older—who have a high school diploma or GED.
* Literacy programs in Texas are only serving 3.6% of the 3.8 million in need of adult basic education services.
* Texas ranks 47 out 50 states, in terms of English literacy levels.


Those facts aren't very fun.

The average length of the human small intestine is 22 feet. Now that's a fun fact!
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:32 AM on January 23, 2010


.
posted by Vibrissae at 2:00 AM on January 23, 2010


Metafilter: This comment doesn't even make sense.

MetaFilter: Yes, it does!

MetaFilter: No, it doesn't!
posted by bwg at 2:41 AM on January 23, 2010


Well, color me surprised. I didn't know Texans read.

God, the condescension - smackfu
More like the parody of condescension meant to be a soft ball for anyone noting the topic of the thread superficially supports the absurd generalization.

But then again, a little condescension might actually be in order for a large metropolis that is apparently incapable of supporting a single private book store, in a state that ranks close to dead last in English literacy, and similarly near last when it comes to per capita spending on libraries, that is dead last in teacher salaries and compensation, near last in high school completion, spending on the arts, and so on.

Maybe if Texans read a little more they wouldn't lead the nation in executions, have the highest percentage of children and working parents without health insurance, have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates, produce the most pollution and greenhouse gas emissions of any state, and otherwise produce and champion misanthropic politicians George Bush who seem to have little knowledge or regard for our nation's history, constitution, and place in the world.

I'm not saying I'm not a jerk for condescending to Texas, but it may also be true that Texas is among the states most deserving of condescension.
posted by Davenhill at 4:11 AM on January 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


The First Methodist Church of Laredo organizes a book sale every month:
Yes, our major book store in town closed. But you can still pick up good books to read at the FUMC monthly book sale. It isn’t just a gently used book sale any more as many selections are brand new. That’s right, we have sent letters to publishing houses and they are sending new books for the church to sell. Also when Dalton’s closes their doors, they will give us a few of their books.
The non-profit organization (which has a nurse on staff) made $701 from January's sale, and book browsers in the community will continue to have an affordable option to pick up titles their shelves at home. No, not just Bibles. I'm pretty sure you don't have to be a Methodist or any other brand of Christian to donate items and shop there.
posted by woodway at 5:34 AM on January 23, 2010


...for their shelves. I don't read carefully enough. (But hey, I do read.)
posted by woodway at 5:41 AM on January 23, 2010


I spent time with the sister of the manager of that B.Dalton last weekend.The manager has been there over twenty years, and has quite a following because she really knows her customers, mostly from over the border or out in the country, and she special orders for them all the time. These are not people who are likely to use Amazon, or if they're in Mexico, likely to be successful getting their Amazon order in any kind of timely fashion.
She's so well-respected that some locals are talking about investing in an independent store with her, but she's having major issues with purchase prices and distribution as a new, unhuge, independent bookstore. Essentially she'd have to pay almost retail, gamble that the books would sell, and charge more than the price listed on the book.
It looks like a losing proposition for everyone but Amazon.
posted by pomegranate at 5:58 AM on January 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, most of my early exposure to books was either at the L.A. Public Library or the Pickwick Bookstore in Topanga Plaza, one of the first enclosed malls. I acquired a lot of the original Peanuts trade paperbacks (which I so wish I still had, good grief!) at that store and learned of the 'grown-up cartoons' of the New Yorker and Punch in the same section. When the name B.Dalton was added to the sign, I gave a big 'uh oh', but the store was pretty much unchanged well into the 70's (and my 20's), and when Waldenbooks opened a store in the same mall, I was extremely unimpressed. So, I will miss the B.Dalton name (but I am also tickled to learn that MeFi's Own brujita is a member of the Pickwick bookstore family).

Still, I have found no use for chain bookstores for years, as my appetite for paper reading has been satisfied by a combination of Amazon, Target (which has a far better selection than WallyMart), the college bookstore at Cal Poly and used book sellers both here in SLO and back in the Valley. One local store closed its doors in 2008 but continues to sell interesting books online, which is nice, but a poor substitute for the bookstore browsing experience. Welcome to the 21st Century.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:21 AM on January 23, 2010


My point is to put the liberal books, condoms, and arugula inside one section, much like how Best Buy has all the Mac products corralled together, including things that aren't necessarily Mac specific (headphones, USB hard drives, etc) and could be found elsewhere in the store.

Plus, you could have people look from either side of the border and smugly think that they are smarter.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:15 AM on January 23, 2010


From either side of the border look and smugly think...

It's hard to type with a bandaid.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:15 AM on January 23, 2010


Welcome to America. These are the towns where the Red States grow their base.

Just for the record, since so many comments are making the "Laredo is in Texas... Texas if full of slack-jawed book hating Republicans... therefore, Laredo no longer has a bookstore due to all the slack-jawed book hating Republicans" observation, it's worth noting the following:

In the 2008 Presidential election, Webb County (of which Laredo is the seat) went 72% for Obama and 28% for McCain.
posted by jal0021 at 9:15 AM on January 23, 2010 [6 favorites]



story: I had to stop at my small-town local library. A lady, angry, stormed out the front door. Yelled at me that all the computers had gone offline and all you could do at the library was read books or newspapers or magazines. I told her that was the original purpose of libraries and she ought to give it a try.


Well, the purpose of a library is to provide access to information. For all you know (and what is likely) is that woman can't afford a monthly internet bill or a computer, an relies on the public library to access the internet. If she's looking for a job, or paying bills, or trying to email a relative, then maybe you can understand that she'd be angry.

All of the books in the world won't help her in any of those cases.

There's no reason to be condescending to someone who comes to the library for something other than print resources, and a librarian shouldn't put one above the other.
posted by codacorolla at 9:56 AM on January 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Maybe if Texans read a little more they wouldn't lead the nation in executions, have the highest percentage of children and working parents without health insurance, have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates, produce the most pollution and greenhouse gas emissions of any state, and otherwise produce and champion misanthropic politicians George Bush who seem to have little knowledge or regard for our nation's history, constitution, and place in the world.

I don't really expect anyone outside Texas (or half of us here) to realize this, but Texas isn't as red as it seems. It's close to 50/50 in fact, but the gerrymandering here is way beyond out of control, ensuring those with an education and/or scruples get no say.
posted by cmoj at 10:37 AM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't really expect anyone outside Texas (or half of us here) to realize this, but Texas isn't as red as it seems. It's close to 50/50 in fact, but the gerrymandering here is way beyond out of control, ensuring those with an education and/or scruples get no say.

He's not kidding. The Republicans have consciously maneuvered things to where anyone who might have any chance of having been near a college for any reason other than a football game essentially has no political voice in national elections. It made the national news when they did it to Austin and the state legislature's Democrats boycotted the legislative session.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:22 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Walmart and Target have a wide range of new books and best-sellers

Not any of the ones up here in Canada. They have about 3-4 linear feet of shelving for books and occasionally some large bins of books in the aisle. Costco has far better selection.
posted by jkaczor at 12:11 PM on January 23, 2010


I think I saw one at Borders as well.

Yes, we've had search terminals that customers can use for years.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:21 PM on January 23, 2010


Is there where I can complain that the Borders and B&N stores that I've been to in the last few years seem to have about a third of the books that they used to? Especially Borders, they used to have high, like 8 foot, shelves stuffed with great selections of books, even ones on pretty obscure topics but lately they've mostly got five foot shelves with a lot of the books turned to face you so that they take up more room. It's useless to go in there to find any specific book because they probably don't have it. I'm not sure what the point is of having a football field sized bookstore with so few books. The coffee's good though.
posted by octothorpe at 1:11 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bookstores in the UK are closing too. Me, I like a paper book, not an e-book. Not least because I'm forgetful. My cellphone battery is always running down. I can't imagine how pissed I'd be if I got on the train home from work only to find my e-book had no charge. The worst that can happen with a real book is that I get to finish it before the end of the journey.

The library system in the UK sucks. My local library is open one full and two half days a week. It's full of Catherine Cookson and Wilbur Smith novels, or soap opera novella spin-offs. I can only borrow books on inter-library loan within the local area and, again, the choice isn't great.

So for me, buying books is not just a necessity for me, but it's also a great pleasure. I love to browse and find a gem that intrigues me. I buy a lot in charity shops and at work we have a paperback exchange, which has led me to lots of books I might not otherwise have found. But I'm dismayed when I go into Waterstones and see the piles of best sellers, celeb bios and self-help books. The last time I bought books brand new, I struggled to find three books in the 3 for 2 promotion that I wanted to read.

The specialist bookshops are closing - Murder One was a casualty last year, which saddened me greatly - it was the only place in London I could buy John Lescroart. At least they have an online store.

I don't see people on the train with Kindles, so I'm not sure if they've really taken off in the UK. But there's nothing like the feel of a book, for me.
posted by essexjan at 3:10 PM on January 23, 2010


So what? I know it's been said, but uh, the library?
posted by agregoli at 5:19 PM on January 23, 2010


I know this thread is probably close to dead, but all snarks aside I would be curious to know how reading patterns have changed over the decades. How much of the problem is pricing (e.g. people buying books from Amazon), a change in the amount people are reading, or the format people are consuming books (e.g. digital: kindles or audio books).

For myself, I've shifted heavily towards audio books. As a consequence the number of books I've been able to "read" (listen to) has actually gone up considerably, now that I can listen to books while I'm commuting, running errands, doing house work, etc. I picked up over 40 audio books in the last year (and most of that was in the second half of last year), on top of the hard back books that I've been reading (albeit at a much slower pace). And I can store all of those books on my iPhone.

Obviously, my change in habits doesn't help/may hurt local bookstores, which I love, but it's dramatically increased my consumption of books. And it's had a nice side benefit of taking some of the edge/stress out of bad traffic, and makes the time spent in lines or waiting rooms more pleasant and go by faster.
posted by Davenhill at 7:58 PM on January 23, 2010


Oneswellfoop, Dayton-Hudson had started the B.Dalton line in the Twin cities before they bought out Grampa. Apparently they brought back the Pickwick name for a chain of discount bookstores to compete with Crown, but that didn't last long.

B. Dalton is a made-up name, with no literary connections.
posted by brujita at 10:16 PM on January 23, 2010


The B in B. Dalton stands for "Books." Yes, Books Dalton Booksellers, where I worked for four years. Four years of Howard Stern books, Madonna's "Sex", Oprah (cookbook, diet book and book club), Robert MacNamara's book vandalized with "lies" on the cover, O.J. Simpson trial books, the Turner Diaries, the emergence of Harry Potter, Robert Jordan and the snail-like pace of releases, the series romance section, tons of stripped paperbacks into the compactor, working the store by myself on Saturday night (keyholder went home early, other employee got miffed and walked out), working through a Christmas season with no manager, complicated Stephen King dumps, ladders on rails; my first job.

If you're reading this, turn off your computer and go to a bookstore; you might meet someone. If you're in the SF Bay Area, I'll give you a head start:

Kepler's
Books Inc.
M Is For Mystery
Recycle Bookstore
The Other Change Of Hobbit
Green Apple Books
City Lights
BookBuyers
posted by JDC8 at 1:26 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


B. Dalton was a big part of my Minnesota childhood. I actually preferred Waldenbooks because they were rarer and thus more interesting. But at the height of the Dayton-Hudson empire (sigh) the B. Daltons were as well stocked and cared for as any of their other stores, and they got a lot of my money.

Nowadays there is MnLINK. I can sit at my computer and request materials from any public or university library in the state, and do. (Someday they will cut me off because this is way too much fun. Bike training DVD only held by one library out in Plum Creek? Send it over please!) For the rare times that fails me, there is Amazon. Borders and B&N are for magazines and last-minute gifts, and even the magazine selection has fallen off.
posted by Flannery Culp at 5:39 AM on January 24, 2010


Psst, JDC8, great list, but add Borderlands & Dog Eared Books.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:20 AM on January 24, 2010


It was alluded to in the first comment, but this definitely the time to link to what you reading for?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:37 AM on January 24, 2010


Decimask: Please tell me you dropped a zero.

Unfortunately, I'm not. That's why I said a little bit more.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:40 AM on January 24, 2010


Faze: We're so jaded. We think that B. Dalton is some kind of inferior bookstore, only because we've just lived through two decades of Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and their like. But anytime before the mid-1980s, you'd've been pathetically grateful to have anything stocked a well as a B. Dalton outside of a downtown or outside New York City.

My argument isn't about number of books per se but about the literary / social weight of those books. Back when families owned only a handful of books, they were books of either tremendous literary merit or social importance: the Bible, a dictionary or encyclopedia set, and a few pieces of what we still regard as groundbreaking British / Continental / American literature. They have those kinds of books at B. Dalton for sure, but most of them are crowded in a shelf on the back called "Classics" reprinted in flimsy paperbacks. Most of those books are as available for free on the Internet as they are in your bookstore. But as the diversity of books published skyrockets, and the buying power of families has increased, the B. Daltons and Waldenbooks represent less and less of that diversity.

Imagine for a moment the only place where books could be bought and sold were airports, and airport bookstores looked just like they do today. We would still live in an information society, for sure, where much larger percentages of the population than ever before were able to witness a diversity of experiences. But our ability to record those experiences and that accumulated knowledge and relay it in a reliable way would be significantly limited by whose experiences sold well. If we had only that jilted, biased perspective to apply to the world as we experienced it, our new-found ability to see the world and all its wonders wouldn't mean all that much.

Put another way: if one of the only piece of philosophy or religion books you can get your hands on is "The Secret," you're likely to treat your newfound worldly friends as objects anyway, which means you won't get anything out of that experience. To be honest, I think its a lot better to live in that limited world where I have to really think about the few truly meaningful books I own.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:49 AM on January 24, 2010


A woman on a panel at the last Associated Writers Program convention told the audience that someone high up at B&N told her that her book would not be put on the New Fiction table unless she changed the word "cunt" to "groin". She capitulated because she wanted her book to sell (which it hasn't).

As far as I'm concerned, it is okay to use profanity to describe sex if it the scene being depicted is one of lust or rape; not when the characters care about each other.

Support your local indie bookstore.
posted by brujita at 11:02 PM on January 25, 2010


"But then again, a little condescension might actually be in order for a large metropolis that is apparently incapable of supporting a single private book store, in a state that ranks close to dead last in English literacy, and similarly near last when it comes to per capita spending on libraries, that is dead last in teacher salaries and compensation, near last in high school completion, spending on the arts, and so on. "

The bolded qualifier in there, which popped up all over the thread, reeks of someone lying with statistics. I wonder how Texas rates if you look at more inclusive literacy rates (IE: include Spanish). One of the immediate differences I noticed when I visited Arizona last year is how many stores had bilingual sign age within and one can assume that is strictly marketing.

"Walmart and Target have a wide range of new books and best-sellers

"Not any of the ones up here in Canada. They have about 3-4 linear feet of shelving for books and occasionally some large bins of books in the aisle. Costco has far better selection."


Canadian WalMarts, or at least the ones I've been in, are pale imitations of their American counterparts. An American WalMart is a self contained, amazingly diverse (product type wise if not product choice) mall.
posted by Mitheral at 5:23 PM on January 26, 2010


"One of the immediate differences I noticed when I visited Arizona last year is how many stores had bilingual sign age within and one can assume that is strictly marketing."

Crap. One can assume that is NOT strictly marketing.
posted by Mitheral at 5:25 PM on January 26, 2010


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