April 12 – April 19, 2007 Edition

Indy Book Stores
Shut Doors in Atlanta,
San Francisco, Phoenix

4/11/07-­At least three well-known independent book stores have announced this month that they are closing their doors. They include Cody’s in San Francisco and Poisoned Pen Central in Phoenix, and Chapter 11 Bookstores which will close two of its three remaining stores in Atlanta.

Cody’s and Chapter 11 closings are attributed to poor book sales. Poisoned Pen Central, however, closed one of its stores due to the landlord’s code violations at the Central location. Many independent booksellers across the country are suffering from deep discounts offered by giant chains.

Cody’s Books will shut its only store on Stockton Street in San Francisco after battling major chains for 18 months, though one other Cody’s remains in Berkeley. President Andrew Ross told media that he “bet the bank” on the San Francisco store, even mortgaging his house. The unit has been losing about $70,000 per month. But going head to head with major chains such as nearby Borders and Barnes & Noble proved too much for the smaller operation. The store also was impaired by construction around the location which made it tough for the bookstore to attract shoppers and dropped sales by 40%.

Poisoned Pen, which opened its downtown Phoenix store in early 2005, will continue to operate its store in Scottsdale, but the Phoenix store closed on April 4. Poisoned Pen owner Barbara Peters blames the closure not on sales, but on a landlord who failed to obtain a certificate of occupancy for the renovated building Poisoned Pen shared with several other businesses. Code violations cost the store both reputation and business, according to Peters. Peters has said she will continue to operate in Phoenix as a “roving downtown bookstore,” through a variety of book events. The Scottsdale store is doing well.

Chapter 11, which had 16 stores in 2004, will close two of its remaining three units in Sandy Springs and Ansley Mall, Atlanta by May 12. The remaining Emory Commons store will focus on sales online and through schools and corporate training departments. The company, which earned about $3 million in sales last year, filed for bankruptcy about two years ago and was sold to Booklovers, lender’s group by previous owner Perry Tanner, who remains an investor in the group.

Chapter 11 management says it hopes it can place some of the 10 workers who will lose their jobs in the online side of the operation.