There Won't Be a Bookstore in This Entire Borough

by Meredith Turits

UPDATE: Rejoice! The Bronx's Barnes & Noble will stay open for two more years at minimum thanks to negotiations!

EARLIER: Go give your local bookseller a hug after you hear this news. The Barnes & Noble at Bay Plaza, the last bookstore in the Bronx, is closing. Yes, the only bookseller in the entire borough is shuttering at the end of the year due to an unaffordable lease. The Bronx, which is populated by 1.4 million people, has no independent bookstores at all — the last closed in 2011 — and now residents won't have the megastore in which to browse or buy titles, either. Just writing that out seems baffling, and the reality is devastating to the community members it affects, too.

23-year-old Kenneth Pineda told the New York Times, “It’s really taking a lot away from here ... There are always people reading books and drinking coffee in the cafe. I even see kids from school doing their homework. There are not many places like this anymore."

It's hard to stomach closure of a place that breeds culture — a spot in the community for gathering, for thinking, for learning.

Although the loss of the bookstore takes away a hub for reading, I'm hopeful this doesn't mean a lack of access to reading material. Even though big chains like Barnes & Noble are shutting doors across the country, independent bookstores are on the rise in some places. Book-seekers can and will still find the books they crave in other boroughs, even if they have to do it in the communities in which they, for instance, work instead of live. And there is, of course, ubiquitous access to e-books that are easily downloadable, and libraries throughout the borough.

'Cause once you're hooked on books, that's that — and whether B&N closes or not, people aren't going to stop reading.