Sad news for Castro neighborhood book lovers, and bookstore browsers: Books Inc. has just announced that their Market Street location in the heart of the 'hood will be closing at the end of June. The reason is of course lease-related, as CEO Michael Tucker tells Hoodline today. And, he says, the closure "does not reflect the overall health of Books, Inc. or the book industry."
Of course, the overall book industry has been deeply impacted by the rise of e-books, and Tucker acknowledges that sales at the Castro location have "continued to trail off" in recent years and the store "continues to be in the red," which is why after having a favorable lease the company can not afford to re-up for five more years at any higher rate. He says that though the loss of the 21-year-old Castro store comes as a blow, "We look forward to continuing service for the community at our Opera Plaza location."
Books Inc. bills itself as the "oldest independent bookseller in the West," with its origins in a single Northern California location that opened during the Gold Rush days of 1851. The business was renamed Books Inc. in 1946, and has been under Tucker's leadership since the death of original owner Lew Lengfeld in 1995, and this is not the first time that Tucker has had to deal with closing stores of Books Inc.'s 26 California locations in the mid-1970s, only 11 remain, though a new store in Santa Clara is set to open this year.
There are three other SF locations besides the one in the Castro, including a 40-year-old store in Laurel Village, the Opera Plaza location, and another location in the Marina.
The closing of Books Inc., which follows five years after the shuttering of A Different Light bookstore on Castro Street, means that beloved Aardvark Books at 227 Church Street will be the only remaining bookstore in the neighborhood after June.