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A warning bell for independent bookshops

Yesterday afternoon I walked into Coliseum Books, the first time I’d done so in a few months. The 40%-70% off stickers were everywhere, and the walls were still lined with some books, but many had also been sold off. A gloomy air filled the store because it will be open only a few more days. And as Reuter’s Mark Porter reports, the closure of Coliseum has upset loyal customers. “It’s sad to see these little bookstores disappearing. I’m sorry to see it go. I used to go when it was on the West Side…I’m not happy,” said a woman, who declined to give her name, as she searched for a bargain.

Coliseum owner George Leibson said that while a lot of people were coming into the store to browse, they were not buying. Coliseum has spent the past four years on 42nd Street after moving from its home on 57th Street. “We searched high and low for a high-traffic area, but it hasn’t worked out,” he said. “Chain-store sales and the Internet are far more practical. People will go to places closer to them. Places like Barnes & Noble.” But as Main Street Books‘s Kate Bierce, who is closing her Iowa shop after 12 years in business, said, the customer will ultimately lose. “Customer service is not the same. When somebody walks in this store I know them, their kids, their parents, their grandparents. I put books in their hands. That’s what my customers really like,” she said.

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