Thursday, July 08, 2010

Looks like Webster's Books is folding tent. Something about being behind on the rent, "starting two years ago", whatever that means. Before it was Websters, it was Seven Mountains Books, then before that it was the Book Swap. Svoboda's got folded into the operation at some point during its existence if I recall correctly, which means that two families of independent booksellers are leaving State College's downtown this month. Supposedly there's another location out in Patton Twp somewhere, and I have to agree with the angry people in the comments, it isn't kosher to be opening new locations when you can't pay the rent on your downtown lease. Rather looks like a "strategic default" move from this remote vantage-point.

Look, the reason *I* stopped going there was the raging political polarization, their increasing prices, the stink of coffee (despite the smartass comments about hippie stench, I never noticed any such thing - but I can't abide strong coffee odor), and my having moved out of the immediate State College area some ten years ago. Websters long ago became... repellent to most of its potential customers. The only people they were interested in appealing to - fair-trade fanatics, localvores, leftie college professors, students, and hangers-on - are, as a rule, cheap, cheats, or contemptuous of the profit motive. That isn't a long-term path to profitability.

Looks like Fred's still alive - he was defending his former business partners in the comments. I wonder if they still have the warehouse under the block across the street - Fred used to say that the majority of the business's cash flow was in the mail-delivery online business through Amazon and other outlets.

1 comment:

Bill Johnston said...

Gotta love how it starts with a quote from a guy who will miss the place, yet fondly remembers hiding out in the back and reading books instead of paying for them.