When One Bookstore Door Closes, Another Doesn’t Usually Open

This is excruciating. I am sure many of you can relate.

An incredible used bookstore nearby is closing its doors. I have been buying books there since I moved to Huntington Beach in 2009, because they have a wide and deep classics section. I remember I was shocked to see a copy of The Blithedale Romance sitting on the shelf when I thought, ‘no one will actually have this sitting on their shelf.’ Or Sarah Orne Jewett’s, The Country of the Pointed Firs. I bought my first Virago there (The Matriarch) as well as many of the books for the Reading New England Challenge of last year. I imagined buying my books there forever.

This is the kind of place where, though the shelves are bulging and recently bought books are still in boxes on the floor, the owner knows her stock. When you request a title she goes immediately to the section or reaches inside one of the boxes and pulls out the book. Yes, it IS like magic!

Like so many businesses, the bookshop owners are powerless over rises in rent and though the store does a brisk business, the new rate is higher than what makes sense. This is such a loss for any community.

Will I find out why you write such depressing books?

My last purchase included the 1940 second edition of the 1935 two-volume set of The Esoteric Tradition by de Purucker in pristine condition, which I am thrilled to have. I also found R.W.B. Lewis’ Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Edith Wharton and my first Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere. I was a bit overwhelmed as I walked through the familiar aisles…






My last book haul:


A non-science fiction H.G. Wells and a Medieval female coroner. How intriguing!

Bon voyage, Camelot Books. Like your namesake your story will remain forever in my heart!

19 thoughts on “When One Bookstore Door Closes, Another Doesn’t Usually Open

  1. There are still two used bookshops in my small town, only those passionate about books and full of energy/ideas could run one these days. I’m a regular to both. I imagine it would be even more difficult to run a bookshop that sells new books, as publishers give far larger discounts to the big chains.


    • Amazing that in a small town you have TWO used bookshops. Nice!

      I am a former book clerk having worked in chains and independents. I always fantasized about having my own shop. But, I can’t imagine making that a reality any longer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so sorry, Laurie. I feel fortunate that we still have a wonderful independent book store (new and used) in our community. But then we’ve remained free of the building and gentrification that you’re experiencing, and I don’t know how long that will last. The greed of out of control development is a horrible phenomenon of our times.

    I’m glad to see you picked up what looks like a lovely copy of Green Dolphin Street, and I’m intrigued by The Estoteric Tradition. I didn’t know you were also interested in esotericism.


    • The loss of individuality and character that results when communities are over-developed is one of the saddest things, I think.

      Yes, my first Elizabeth Goudge!

      When I was young I had a fascinating great aunt who took me to lectures and talks, the substance of which I barely understood at the time. I just remember how drawn I was. When I got older I discovered they were of a theosophical and spiritual nature and she encouraged me to read across a wide spectrum of metaphysics and esoteric spirituality. My aunt would be thrilled to know I found this set and I look forward to studying it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a sad story.

    I live on Long Island, New York. We one had multiple, high quality bookstores all over the island.

    We are down to one great independent bookstore. It is still about thirty miles from where I live. Otherwise we have a few tiny independents and a some giant chain stores.

    I hope that there will always be a few great bookstores left.


    • The demise of these kinds of bookstores that not only had books you wanted but discovered books you didn’t know you needed, makes me sad.

      And then there were the booksellers, who could help you find that one book Aunt Dora, the family bibliophile, had never read. As a former bookstore clerk I really miss the days of relationships we created with customers.


  4. I know your pain. Since moving to an outer suburb, where there were only a couple of poor quality chain stores, I started buying online, something I resisted for years in favour of independents. Fortunately a slightly better store opened recently and buying online does have its advantages, but otherwise real browsing for real quality books has to be saved to rare excursion to the city.


    • I think there are times and situations when we have no choice but to buy online. But when we have the chance, support for brick and mortar stores are so important. Glad you have that opportunity!


  5. That is so soul-destroying. When will landlords realise that it’s counter-productive to keep raising rents? Perhaps they dn’t care that street shopping becomes more homogenised.

    Are Camelot continuing as a mail-order outlet? In our small town our local bookshop has moved to larger premises, so it’s not all bad news …


    • From what I understand, they are storing the books and will have book fairs periodically. But that may be wishful thinking, since they will be competing with all the other activities people do.

      The building that goes on around here, plus a certain amount of gentrification is staggering.

      That is wonderful about your town’s bookstore. That’s the kind of news we want to hear!!

      Liked by 1 person

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