There is a beautiful play and movie called "84 Charing Cross Road" and everytime I read of another independent bookstore closing, I think of it.
We thankfully still have several in my neighborhood - used and new or a combination of both. Whenever I am in a new town I gravitate to the used/archival bookstores. I haunted them when I lived in NYC and still do when I go there.
Anyway, this is not a critique in a true sense, but in a way it is.
It is a pleasure to state that here in Denver is the largest independent bookstore in the country: The Tattered Cover. There are now two of them less than two miles apart and to visit either is a joy beyond belief. The building in which the newer one is housed was once a legitimate theatre and before its closing was the sound stage for the Perry Mason series. To walk into this bookstore, walk upon what was once the stage and then to walk down the steps into what was once the house is a beautiful experience. 'Though not the little store one is quick to think when thinking of an independent bookstore, it maintains the cozy and warm atmosphere of its smaller counterparts that are driven by the love of literature and learning. One could spend hours in big comfy chairs in sequestered lounge areas and read whatever the heart's desire. If you ever find yourself in Denver, The Tattered Cover should be high on your list of places to visit.
Reminds me of Archer, Texas, home of Larry McMurtry, the oscar winning author of "The Last Picture Show," "Terms of Endearment," "Texasville," "Lonesome Dove," and many others I can't at this moment recall.
He has pretty much bought up the entire town of Archer, turning it into a huge two and three story used book store. I'm not sure how many buildings are filled floor to roof with books, but there are many. It's something to see. I was overwhelmed. I wanted to read them all which would probably take many lifetimes.
It's been a while since I was there, but at that time if he was there, Mr. McMurtry would sign one of his many books and talk about his obsession with books.
Having lived on Columbus and 86th in the 80's - and know (knew) the store well, it is a review of sorts. A bygone era. Here in MN, I mourned the loss of THE HUNGRY MIND on Grand in St. Paul (I still miss it - it's been gone about ten years) and then BOUND TO BE READ closed two years ago. And oh - you brought up memories with CHARRING CROSS ROAD (spell?)
Whenever I travel, I seek out bookstores. They always have something specific about their area and the people employed will talk to you and not have to look everything up on the computer. And I remember - whens Barnes and Nobles was a textbook store - selling books for college students - cheap. Progress can be hard. In time, I will be visiting the local Barnes and Noble in the area.
There's a town in Wales in the UK called Hay-on-Wye (Y Gelli in Welsh) and there are 41 independent bookstores for a population of 1500 - it's become a mecca for independent/used/antiquarian booksellers in the UK. If you ever come to the UK and you love books, it's worth a visit. It's spellbinding. Is that a pun?