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Berkeley - Shattuck Barnes & Noble May Be Closing Doors - Daily Cal

Shattuck Barnes & Noble May Be Closing Doors
Major Chain’s Potential Closure Follows Departure of Independent Telegraph Icon Cody’s Books in July
BY Sameea Kamal

Contributing Writer - Daily Californian
Thursday, March 1, 2007

One major chain bookstore in Berkeley could soon close because of some of the same factors that have led smaller independent bookstores to close their doors.

The Barnes & Noble on Shattuck Avenue will close, store department manager Jeff McGinnis said. Company representatives did not return calls for comment and McGinnis did not comment on when or why the store was closing, but city officials said that the bookstore may have been struggling to stay afloat with the current expansion of online book retailers.

In July the iconic Cody’s Books closed its primary location on Telegraph Avenue, while the owners of Black Oak Books, also on Shattuck, put the store up for sale in January.

City officials said they were unsure about the reasons for the closure, and Michael Caplan, the city’s economic development manager, said its Downtown Berkeley location is advantageous, partly because it provides on-site parking.

However, there are inherent problems facing local book sellers, Caplan said.

“Books as commodities have been easily available on the Internet, which has been a major competition to bookstores and that’s being felt in Berkeley and throughout the country,” he said.

Black Oak Books manager Don Pretari said the store has “so-so” sales due to seasonal shifts. Pretari said springtime sales are typically lower than in the fall because of the holiday seasons.

Caplan said Berkeley’s concentration of independent bookstores could have contributed to competition with the chain.

“There are a huge number of bookstores in Berkeley, and a great number of independent ones in Telegraph and Shattuck and hidden in corners all over the city,” Caplan said.

The independent stores have antiquarian and used books and sell to niche markets, which is likely to give them an advantage, Caplan said.

UC Berkeley graduate student Elizabeth Goodman, 30, was browsing at Barnes & Noble yesterday but said she prefers to purchase at independently owned stores.

“It’s convenient, but I’d rather support the local businesses,” she said. “I don’t want to support the homogenization of American culture. Independent businesses are struggling too.”

Barnes & Noble recently opened a new, larger store in Emeryville, which Caplan said may also be a factor in the Berkeley branch’s closing.
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