maybe this is a harbinger or maybe it's just two blips on the local literary radar, but it's a shame nonetheless that cody's will close their flagship store in berkeley, and that a clean well-lighted place for books is up for sale.
while there are a bunch of independent bookstores in the area, when two of the more well-known and loved stores can't keep going on the way they'd like, citing on-line and chain bookstores as the big reasons for declining sales, well, you have to wonder. the owner of a clean well-lighted place is apparently opening up a smaller store elsewhere in the city.
there's lots to say here about chains, media consolidation and flow of information, and because a) i need to get back to work and b) i'd need to think those thoughts through a bit before posting now's not the time to get into it. but i'll note that art and the business of distributing art has a remarkable way of reacting to crises of inspiration and consolidation. activist artists initiate new movements, c.f. impressionism, punk rock...and aided by production and technological advancement they find ways to get their work out via non-establishment channels, c.f. the success of the indie music distributors during the last 10-15 years, especially now in the age of the mp3 blogs and on-line retailers that specialize in indie labels. (a quick plug for parasol...great customer service and good prices during first weeks of release). the internet is a major democratizing force in all of this, so the bubbling net neutrality issue is worth keeping an eye on (and taking action on...call your rep and senator) wrt how art and information flow.
to bring it back to the bookstore closings, i'll note that there are more used bookstores along a few blocks of mission than i noticed in all of miami (lived there for 4 years). there are more venues for readings and more events than i recall seeing in the years i lived in philadelphia (which is a fairly well-educated and literate city). so this area will hopefully always continue to be at the vanguard of what it means to maintain a vibrant lit scene. but the closing of these indie stores is still worth mentioning...though hopefully they won't be the first of a wave of closings.