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From Eat, Sleep, Read to Eat, Sleep, Whatnot


This is a copy of an article I wrote for our newsletter – South Bay Writers Club – Writers Talk – last October about independent book stores going away.

Eat, Sleep, Whatnot

by Carolyn Donnell

EAT

SLEEP

READ

This IndieBound motto used to grace the entrance of Willow Glen Books, formerly located at 1330 Lincoln Avenue in San Jose. Now, unfortunately, it would have to read Eat, Sleep, and Whatnot. That’s the new store that has taken the venerable old bookstore’s place—Whatnots & Dodads (their spelling).

Willow Glen Books, which opened for business in 1992, is gone. It offered a one-of-a-kind service, was especially supportive of local authors, and regularly hosted readings and other writers’ group activities. Owner Cathy Adkins said she had planned to retire next year, but health problems and lagging sales forced her to change her mind. She said the biggest culprit—beyond the big bookstores—was the Internet, which ate into her revenues increasingly during the past few years. Earlier this year, long time Willow Glen resident and bookstore lover Roland A. Vierra stepped forward, and for a while it looked as if he would be able to save the store.

Evidently this deal failed, though, because when I looked, I found Whatnots there instead. The red brick at the bottom is the same, but everything else is painted beige, inside and out. The owner of the new store did say that Hicklebee’s, the independent children’s bookstore just down the street, may have plans to expand to take on some of the clientele left out in the cold by the demise of Willow Glen Books. Stay tuned for further developments on that.

Other areas have been struck too. Moon News in Half Moon Bay—which was older than Willow Glen Books—recently shut its doors, too. But a former employee was able to reopen a similar store named Harbor Books. So Half Moon Bay still has five independent bookstores. San Jose: where are your other 360? (If you count the number of bookstores against the population, San Jose should have at least in the mid-300s to match that little town by the sea. San Jose, get busy!)

There is still an independent bookstore in Morgan Hill: BookSmart. According to SBW member Beth Wyman, it has been there for more than twenty years and is still going strong. Aficionados of independent bookstores who live north of San Jose may have to go to Mountain View or even Palo Alto for now.

The website indiebound.org , an online community for independently owned bookstores, includes a locator for Indie supported businesses.

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