Friday, June 16, 2006

Another Independent Bites the Dust

Ed has the bad news: A Clean, Well-Lighted Place for Books in San Francisco is closing its doors.

This is a terrible blow to Bay Area book lovers. A CWLPB is one of the best bookstores in the region, and reading there is like grabbing the brass ring. It’s the store that shows up at community lectures, particularly those put on by City Arts and Lectures down the street, and sells books.

First Kepler’s, which got a second chance.

Then Cody’s on Telegraph

Now A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books.

Somehow, when some of the smaller bookstores closed, I comforted myself by thinking the owners probably didn’t have enough business savvy or they were in the wrong location, or something.

I was deceiving myself. The Bay Area is considered one of the most literate and book-loving areas in the country, yet we are losing major bookstores all over. The closures are in communities that regard themselves as book friendly: Menlo Park, right near Stanford University, Berkeley, right near UC Berkeley, and San Francisco, just a block from City Hall, the Opera House, the Symphony, and a few blocks from the Main Library and Asian Art Museum.

Which store is next?

On a bright note, one of the owners of A CWLPB has opened a new store in West Portal, My writing companion, Sharon Epel, apparently told Neal Sofman, the owner about a vacant space, and he pounced. Here is her report:

“When Neal's wife Anna learned that we lived near West Portal, she said, "I'm always telling Neal he should open a shop there." And I-who have always felt that the one thing missing from our neighborhood shopping district (good restaurants; an arty movie theater, Peets), is a real bookstore--told Anna that an amazing retail space--big, with floor to ceiling windows on two sides, across from the theater, next to an ice cream shop, was up for lease.

To make a long story short, they tried to get the place, almost lost it to some finance company(gasp), and then, one day this fall, they called to thank me---they got it and they were opening up. They've opened now, and it is beautiful. It seems like an amazing story in these times of fabled independents closing.”

Update: The New York Times weighs in on Cody's closure.

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