A Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad, Farewell to Stacey’s Bookstore

I’m hoping that this will be the lowest moment of 2009. I’m really praying for this because if there is something sadder than an 85 year old bookstore that all of San Francisco loved closing because they aren’t making it financially, then we’re all in for some bad times.
I’ve been buying from Stacey’s for the past decade or so. Their technical book selection was simply amazing and you could browse there endlessly. Obviously, all my tech friends would point to Amazon as being vastly superior in its selection and prices, but I didn’t care. It was a local business with staff that really knew the sections they worked in. I was never one much for hitting up the bar after a long day at the office, but going to Stacey’s to see what books, be it fiction or reference they had was always a welcome distraction.
I really thought they were going to be okay. Amazon came along and intentionally undersold all the local bookstores across the US, suckling upon the Walmart business model. This worked for Amazon as they were a massive loss when they started, but are now profitable. Of course prices have gone up and their manner of selling books from small publishers is draconian ($30 a month plus 60% of the price?!!) But Stacey’s forged ahead. Their Literary License program gave you a 10% discount and a $10 off coupon when you reached a set amount of purchases (I believe it was $500). Apparently this illusion of co-existence with dot-commery was just that. When I visited on Wednesday, one of the staff told me that the company had been losing money for the last seven years. If that’s completely correct, then I really commend Stacey’s on sticking it out for so long.
Of course this comes with a great deal of contempt towards the city in which I live. I know that we all order from Amazon or at the very least, shop at one of the Border’s bookstore. I see the branded boxes and bags used when people move to new neighborhoods. There is no need for this. A place like Stacey’s could order anything quickly and probably have it as fast as your Amazon shipment. And most importantly, they were local. The people who worked there and the people who owned it, lived in the Bay Area. We weren’t sending our money off to benefit some ever-smirking pompous idiot like Jeff Bezos. But we still have some bookstores like the group formed by Dog Eared Books or Browser Books to name just a few. As we lose places Stacey’s, Cody’s, and for that matter Polk-A-Dot we become a whitewashed, strip mall of a community with nothing of character, value, or interest. Stop buying online. Stop buying from chains. Buy local. Promote San Francisco and stop thinking that just because you stopped American Apparel from opening on Valencia, everything is totally cool, because it isn’t. The transient culture that once made San Francisco such a wonderful, stream of new ideas and thinking is the same force that threatens to grind it down in to a nondescript spit of sand in an equally nondescript, incorporated world.
A Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad, Farewell to Stacey's Bookstore

One Reply to “A Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad, Farewell to Stacey’s Bookstore”

  1. you’re right, this is sad. i sold books for stacey’s for several years, from the late 80’s till mid-90’s, and went to work there because it was an independent bookseller, and i wanted to be an independent book-writer (stacey’s being the day job – i got so far as getting an agent, but never got the novels in print.) anyway, even then the bezos-bozos corporate trend you describe above was very evident, so i flipped it and tried to use stacey’s long history with publishers world-wide to start acquiring obscure titles from obscure publishers for corporate libraries that encircled the store in their concrete towers, and made the store a good little income thereby. when i got news this past jan. that the store was closing, i got around to writing the owner, asking him to develop further my corp sales model, and one of his managers wrote back to tell me i was full of beans. so, i can only assume he knows more than me. but it’s a shame, SF is unique, and it will only stay that way if people keep reading and writing in and about it. the independently written and published and sold book is about as good a symbol of San Francisco as you are going to get, which happens to catch its spirit literally, too. something new will have to do that now. maybe the new beats will arise.

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