Washington, D.C: The City Without a Chain Bookstore

In News by Dennis Abrams

Upshur Street Books

Upshur Street Books is where President Obama went to do his Christmas shopping this year.

The last remaining chain bookstore in Washington D.C. is closing, meaning — at least in one American city — the independent bookstores have won.

By Dennis Abrams

At Melville House, Julia Irion Martins noted that Washington D.C. spends more money on books, magazines, and newspapers than any other American city.

When President Obama does his annual Small Business Saturday shopping, its always at a bookstore. And this year it was at an independent one at that: the one year old Upshur Street Books.

According to the Washington Post:

“The first family purchased nine books, according to White House officials. The list of adult and young adult titles included Purity: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen; Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights: A Novel by Salman Rushdie; Cynthia Voigt’s Elske: A Novel of the Kingdom, On Fortune’s Wheel, and Jackaroo: A Novel of the Kingdom; A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd; Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli; Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Book 8 by Jeff Kinney; and Dork Diaries 1: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renée Russell.”

The President always shows great love for indie bookstores.

And now, also according to The Washington Post, Barnes & Noble is planning to “close its only non-university affiliated location in Washington, D.C. on December 31st of this year, losing its 32,000 square-foot-space on the ground floor of the Thurman Arnold Building on 12th and E streets NW.

Which means that, with the closing of D.C.’s Book-A-Million outlet earlier this year, readers in the nation’s capital are now “forced” to turn exclusively to the city’s wide array of perfectly splendid independent bookstores for their reading material. (These include such stalwarts as Politics and Prose, Kramerbooks, and Busboys and Poets, which I’d shop at for its name alone)

In a statement to D.C.’s City Paper, David Deason, vice president of development at Barnes & Noble said:

“Despite our best efforts to come to an agreement with the property owner to extend the lease, they have decided to move forward with another tenant.” He added, though, that the city was “important to us,” and that the company was looking at alternate locations, and hoped to have a new store in D.C. sometime in the near future.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.