Bookstores Abound

Bookstores Abound

To the Editor:

I would like to comment on two recent items in the Gazette Packet: a letter in the May 9 issue ("A City's Priorities" from Carl A. Posey), and the item in the May 16 "Business Matters" column headlined "Books Without Bookstores."

I agree strongly with Mr. Posey's point that Alexandria's library system needs to receive high priority in Alexandria's budgets, but I take issue with his statement that "Alexandria is a community where no bookseller can survive." The "Books Without Bookstores" item stated that Alexandria is "bereft of a place to buy books." I disagree.

Book Bank Used Books, which I opened in May 2001, continues to thrive at 1510 King St., with a constantly evolving stock of 25,000 books ranging from recent publications to books out of print for decades. I invite Mr. Posey and all Alexandria booklovers to join us at our ongoing 12th anniversary sale.

Book Bank is not the only surviving bookstore in Alexandria. Across the street from Book Bank our friends at Hooray for Books sell new books, primarily for children. I also note Pauline Books and Media on King Street, and our fellow used booksellers at Already Read Used Books on Duke Street just outside Old Town.

The independent bookseller Olsson's closed all of its locations, not just the one in Old Town. In recent years the Books-a-Million chain has closed many locations while opening others. For those who need a chain bookstore, the Barnes & Noble in Potomac Yard is still open. Yet the "Books Without Bookstores" item translates the loss of Olsson's and Books-a-Million into the notion that Alexandria is particularly lacking in bookselling locations.

The ever-increasing high commercial rents in Alexandria make it difficult for an independent bookstore of any kind to thrive. The same can be said of any small independent business operating at a low profit margin. Alexandria, however, has a better record of retaining bookstores than neighboring Arlington or other high-rent suburban locations such as Bethesda.

Thriving libraries and bookstores are both vital to Alexandria, and I hope that the city continues to support both.