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The Book Works, RIP

Books on display at The Book Works.  The Solana Beach book seller will shut i...
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Above: Books on display at The Book Works. The Solana Beach book seller will shut its doors in July after 36 years.

The Book Works is closing next month, one more casualty of our breathless rush to get our information and entertainment right this very minute.

The small, independent bookstore was the first tenant of the Flower Hill Mall in Solana Beach when it opened in 1975. The warm, inviting store with its oak tables and creaky wood floor did well for many years because the owner stocked books that suited its customers' tastes, and people in those days actually went to bookstores to buy books. But times change, and revenues dropped, and the current owner, Lisa Stefanacci, cannot hang on anymore. She is calling it quits.

I am as guilty in this sad case as anyone. I live near The Book Works, and although I told myself that I must support the store, I didn't very often, opting for the easy, but sterile experience of or the bigger selection of a chain store. So I'm wondering: Is the concept of the independent bookstore completely dead? Not necessarily.

It doesn't always work, but finding yourself a niche can help a lot. The Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore on Clairemont Mesa features mysteries, science fiction, fantasy and horror. The last three genres aren't for me. But I can testify that the selection of mystery and crime novels is fabulous.

Missed a couple of Peter Robinsons? Lusting for backlisted Henning Mankell or Ruth Rendell? The Mysterious Galaxy is a good bet to have them.

The store is in good shape right now, and is, in fact, opening another store in Redondo Beach. But co-owner Maryelizabeth Hart knows that she will never

make a lot of money and that stability is the best she can hope for in the long run, even with a popular niche(s) and good marketing. Remember The White Rabbit, a children's bookstore which closed several years ago to great lamentation from its large clientele? It was popular, it filled a need, it did business. But it was located on Girard Avenue in La Jolla, a Bermuda Triangle of spiraling rents.

Do you patronize brick-and-mortar bookstores regularly? Which ones? Why?

Or have you abandoned the whole concept for e-books or even -- gasp! -- no books? Tell!

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Avatar for user 'Vico Sonata'

Vico Sonata | June 19, 2011 at 7:25 a.m. ― 5 years, 8 months ago

Nice article, thanks for the information.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | June 25, 2011 at 2:04 p.m. ― 5 years, 8 months ago

I am sorry to see The Book Works go. They are truly a representation of what's happening due to bad times. I have shopped there and go to Mysterious Galaxy Books as well as Warwick's. I will always be a supporter for the independent bookstores. I hope everyone else does the same.

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Avatar for user 'judyreeves'

judyreeves | June 29, 2011 at 3:41 p.m. ― 5 years, 8 months ago

Too bad we're loosing another independent bookstore. The BookWorks is one of those places that just feels good to be inside. And Lisa supported San Diego Writers, Ink Brown Bag writing group for a number of years. I shop at Warwick's and especially The Grove in South Park. I especially appreciate that Anne Mery at The Grove knows me and what kinds of books I like and I can always count on her for thoughtful comments. Both Warwick's and The Grove are great supporters of local writers, too.

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Avatar for user 'kmckee'

kmckee | June 29, 2011 at 4:16 p.m. ― 5 years, 8 months ago

I deeply regret the loss of yet another bookstore. The BookWorks was more than a bookstore - it was a place to browse and talk about books with other book-minded strangers - a true community meeting place. I have watched as one after another independent bookstore closes and it is very distressing. Cole's in La Jolla, Grounds for Murder in Old Town, Mystery Book Store in Westwood....Wish someone could come up with a financial model that would allow independent bookstores to survive even with Amazon, etc. around. I naively hoped they could co-exist.

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Avatar for user 'mmcphie'

mmcphie | July 1, 2011 at 1:41 p.m. ― 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm still mourning the loss of the White Rabbit. What a great store! So many books, booksellers who knew books, bookbuyers who selected materials with care, author visits, workshops, storytime. . . . It was magic to walk into a store like that.

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Avatar for user 'indigopromotes'

indigopromotes | July 8, 2011 at 9:25 p.m. ― 5 years, 7 months ago

This truly was a lovely bookstore! I am remembering the interesting
book discussions I attended there, some with KPBS personalities....
Although I am an avid library book reader, I enjoyed browsing there,
and talking with intelligent people. Best wishes to owner, Lisa Stefanacci,
in her new endeavors.

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