When Barnes & Noble swept across America in the ’80s and ’90s, many rightly feared that it would be the end of the small, independent bookstore. Now it appears as though Barnes & Noble may be on the same fateful path that just caused Borders Books to collapse and disappear, with over one-third of the Barnes and Noble locations set to close within the next decade. In a thoughtful piece for the New Republic, Mark Athitakis spells out how the end of the mega-chain bookstore might actually irreparably harmful to the American literary culture,
Barnes & Noble’s campaign, in competition with Borders, to open 20,000-square-foot superstores across America throughout the decade was fueled by a realization that suburban shoppers weren’t necessarily hunting for books per se but were looking for a semblance of community, or at least a place to rest for a few minutes.
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