Julia Quinn Delivers Some Good News Amidst the Bad

s-THE-LAST-BOOKSTORE-largeIf you live in Laredo, Texas, shopping for books just got a lot harder.

On January 16th, with the closing of its’ sole bookstore – a B.Dalton – the city of a quarter million people became the largest in the United States without a single bookstore.  Now anyone wanting to shop in a bricks and mortar store faces a drive of 150 miles to San Antonio.

Though the company says the store was profitable, they also told the Wall Street Journal that it doesn’t make sense to keep it open since they’ve moved on to  “large-format bookstores,” selling a broader range of merchandise, including music, videos, toys, and coffee.  I like coffee and comfy couches as much as anyone, but it leaves the book-starved citizens of Laredo out of luck.

The best that pleas from schoolchildren and a resolution from the city council that Laredo needs a bookstore has gotten?  Some interest from the major chains and the possibility that a bookstore might come to the city sometime in 2011.  But, for now, Laredo is the largest city in the U.S. without a single bookstore.

Author Julia Quinn was appalled. Here’s what she had to say about the situation:

“I heard about the last general interest bookstore closing from a link someone posted on Facebook.  (For the record, Laredo still has Christian and adult bookstores).  I read the article, and it made me think about my own habits.  I do a lot of shopping on the web, but I would estimate that I am physically inside a bookstore at least three times a week.  This is in part because I end up doing a lot of writing on my laptop in the café, but this got me thinking—why am I at the B&N café (serving Starbucks coffee) when I could be at one of three Starbucks within walking distance.  (I live in Seattle; we really do have a Starbucks on every corner.)

I realized that it was because I love being near books.  I walk through displays on my way to the café, and I browse as I’m leaving.  And it goes without saying that I buy a heck of a lot of them.

I realize that there are a lot areas in this country that are too sparsel populated to support a bookstore, but Laredo is a community of a quarter million people.  They need a bookstore!”

Sing it, sister.  So, Julia decided to launch, as she calls it, her own “little form of protest.”  So, between now and Valentine’s Day, she will send a free copy of a Julia Quinn title to the first 100 responders with a Laredo mailing address. Those wanting free books start the ball rolling by visiting the author’s Web site and completing a simple form.

What gave Julia the idea?

“I don’t really know what gave me the precise idea of sending books to people in Laredo.  It’s not like they have no access to books; there are libraries, and I know as well as anyone how to click away on amazon.com. Many Laredoans have been lobbying hard to bring a new bookstore to the city, and I wanted to show some solidarity.  I know that bookstores are scouting out locations in Laredo, but they say they couldn’t possibly open one before 2011.  If the reading community at large can shine some publicity on the situation, maybe the bookstores will work a little faster.”

Here at Sandy Central, I’m well known for bitching and moaning about the bookstores in my area – hey, they dis romance each and every one.  Still, there is no shortage of stores with comfy couches and plenty of coffee in my city and I’m in them a minimum of twice each week.  I couldn’t imagine life without the experience. So, we’re happy to help the citizens of Laredo by shining, as Julia says some publicity on the sad, sad situation.  Consider it shone.

- Sandy AAR

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23 Responses to “Julia Quinn Delivers Some Good News Amidst the Bad”

  1. Sarah says:

    As a Texan from a town with one bookstore. One that also disses romance, I say bravo JQ! And thank you from all Texans!

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  3. Karen W. says:

    I feel their pain because when our Waldenbooks closed, it left our city without a bookstore too. It’s a sad commentary.

  4. Denise says:

    Is there anyone there locally that is interested in setting up an independently owned bookstore? Chains like Waldenbooks and B&N decimated the independently owned Hays & Sanders in Fayetteville, Arkansas (which was a terrific bookstore–not as much stock as a chain, but the owner could always get you whatever you wanted.

    We are lucky in Lafayette, LA in that we have several independently owned bookstores that deal mostly in used books, but they do also sell new books, mostly catering to romance and mystery readers but also to high school students for their reading lists.

  5. Ellen AAR says:

    I’m still mourning the loss of our Waldenbooks where I live. Yeah we have Barnes and Noble and two used book stores, but as far as I’m concerned, the more bookstores the better. I read the story about Laredo and its loss of B Dalton and was appalled.

  6. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by SandyAAR: Julia Quinn (aka @LdyWhistledown) giving free books to citizens of Laredo, Texas! http://bit.ly/4uMqMN

  7. gumbybird says:

    Wow, I’m shocked. I live in a small northwestern town (less than 20,000 people) and we have a wonderful independent bookstore, plus a B.Dalton and a Hastings. How can a town more than 10 times our size have none? I’m sure one of the big chains will rush in to fill the gap soon – I can’t imagine a city that size could go book-less for long! Hope they have a great public library system in the meantime…

  8. Anne Gilbert says:

    Having lived in Texas, though, fortunately, not Laredo, I am not at all surprised by this. Unless you live in some place like Dallas, Austin, San Antoonio, Houston, etc., that has a large and at least somewhat educated population, a lot of people there don’t care. They don’t even read. And, like Julia Quinn, I am absolutely appalled, because I feel exactly the same way. I am fortunate now to be back in my home town of Seattle, Washington, where there is at least one major independent bookstore, and several chains, and an excellent, though budget-crunched library system. I feel very lucky, but I’m not boasting in any way. I hope the city of Laredo comes to its senses in some way, and/or some general interest bookstore comes to town before 2011! This is awful.
    Anne G

  9. Pop Tart says:

    I live in Madison WI – a city of a quarter million people – and we have 2 Borders, 2 B&N’s, a mystery book store, a feminist bookstore, 2 university bookstores and a bunch of used bookstores. How can Laredo have none? I don’t buy that there aren’t enough readers – and the store itself said they were profitable. Mind boggling to me.

  10. there are many used books sale in our area and i frequently visit them to buy some ..

  11. there are mnay used books online and the price is cheap too but i wonder if the quality of it is good `’*

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