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Another Indie Bookstore Closes

The other day I was saddened to discover that Naperville's charming Bookzeller (which I've lauded here previously) has closed. My wife, daughter and I were strolling down that block in Naperville on our way to lunch, and spied the bleak, empty storefront at the bottom of the stairs. As it turns out, it's been closed since October:

BookZeller, Naperville, Ill., which stocks some 40,000 "gently loved, discounted books . . . neatly crammed into every nook and cranny," will close its storefront around November 1 and sell solely on the Internet, according to the Chicago Daily Herald.

Manager Ellen Bales said rising rents were a key reason for shutting down the 12-year-old store, commenting, "When overhead and profits are too close together, it becomes a business decision." The online operation, called BookZone, is located in an industrial park in Naperville. Local customers may pick up purchases there rather than having them shipped.

It seems very short-sighted for a landlord to raise the rent on a basement tenant like Bookzeller. I'd guess there aren't many retailers, other than bookstores, that would be willing to lease basement space, even in tony downtown Naperville. The fact that the store space remains empty, more than five months after Bookzeller's closing, would seem to confirm this point. If there's one thing that I've learned during my (soon-ending) five-year stint in commercial real estate, is that it's better to lease out space at less-than-optimal rates than for it to remain vacant -- and particularly with hard-to-rent space like basements. Good luck to that landlord.

I wish all the best to Bookzeller during its attempted transition to an online-only operation. Obviously, it will never be the same as descending that narrow little staircase, past the two outdoor shelves (!) and through the door into that bright, cozy, book-jammed cellar.

April 1, 2007 in Books | Permalink


We were just in Naperville today, November 17, 2007 and just noticed that Bookzeller was closed. What a shock! I don't get to that town often, so I didn't realize they were closed. And you are so right about raising rents: it's been over a year, and the space is still empty, and will probably remain so. Too bad for those of us who like used books, and well deserved lost cash for that short sighted landlord!

Posted by: cheryl at Nov 17, 2007 2:58:42 PM