Bookstores Closing

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The latest news on the L.A. bookstore front is only a demi-dose of bad news. Samuel French, the venerable New York purveyor of books on theater and film, is closing its Studio City branch on Ventura Boulevard. The store serving mostly Valleywood will combine in February with the larger store on Hollywood Boulevard. No reason was given for the consolidation, though these days no explanation is really needed.

The bigger story locally is that Barnes & Noble is closing its popular Westside Pavilion bookstore at the end of the month. The store, as I reported in October at LA Observed, is doing fine on the business side. Located next to the often sold-out Landmark Theatres, and with a prominent sidewalk-level site on the corner of Westwood and Pico boulevards, Barnes & Noble seems to always be busy with browsers waiting for their movie or stopping in on their way back to the car. The Starbucks cafe on an upper floor is also usually packed. The store regularly meets its sales targets, and has continued to do good business even after the Westside Pavilion installed gates and began to charge customers for parking.

Turns out the reason Barnes & Noble is leaving is a disagreement with the landlord. When the store's leas expired, Westside Pavilion raised the rent way beyond what the store has been paying. After months of negotiations, the two sides could not agree. So the bookstore is leaving and an Urban Home store will go in next year. B&N's CEO says they are looking for another suitable location on the Westside.

The closure will leave a wide swath of the Westside without any large, corporate bookseller. Between the Barnes & Noble stores in Santa Monica and Marina del Rey, and the one in the Grove, there are no longer any big general bookstore unless you count the Ackerman Union store at UCLA. There are a number of small indie stores left, as I talk about with Lisa Napoli in today's segment during All Things Considered from NPR.