The booklover’s calendar in 2010 will hold a number of farewells. B. Dalton, Lighthouse Christian Stores and Waldenbooks are closing their doors in alarming numbers. At the same time, California leads the nation in low prose literacy skills. Coincidence?
Gone in 2010: All B. Dalton Bookseller Locations, Lighthouse Christian Stores and 200 Waldenbooks Stores (Borders Express)
Dating back to 1966, B. Dalton was a powerhouse of booksellers. When Barnes & Noble bought the chain, its once proud number of 798 stores had dwindled. In October of 2009, CBS 2 out of Chicago confirmed that Barnes & Noble plans on closing all B. Dalton stores by January 31, 2010.
This is bad news for smaller communities that are underserved when it comes to book stores. This is especially true for those with Waldenbooks stores in their areas. Among the other fiscally (and intellectually) impactful events in 2010 is the closure of 200 Waldenbooks stores – as reported by News Record, quoting the AP – which results in about 1,500 job losses.
Another 2010 calendar item to commemorate is the closure of the Lighthouse Christian Bookstores. The Long Beach, CA institution is currently holding its “everything must go” sale, but the Daily Breeze reveals that the gradual closure of this 64 year old business has been in the making for the last four years. While the LB store is still hanging on, it will likely close early in 2010.
What Will 2010 Bookstore Closings Do for California’s (Il)Literacy?
A review of 2003 data from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, shows that California ranks on the bottom of the list of literate states. With 23% of adults lacking basic prose literacy skills, the state is put to shame by Minnesota, New Hampshire and North Dakota. These states only showed a 6% prose literacy lack.
Numbers from within the state of California are quite sobering as well. Lowest literacy scores are found in Imperial County (41%), Los Angeles County (33%), Tulare County (32%), Madera County (29%) and Monterey County (28%). Waldenbooks store closures alone will take 12 bookstores out of California.
Costco and Wal-Mart sell books and for the truly literary minded, there is always the public library. Yet it stands to reason that the would-be reading enthusiast in need of gentle guidance, who might otherwise have relied on the knowledge of a bookseller with respect to reading levels and suggested further reading, will not find this kind of service from the average big box store cashier.