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San Diego’s Iconic Adams Avenue Book Store Is Closing For Good

Customers make last-minute purchases at the Adams Avenue Book Store before it...

Credit: Matt Hoffman

Above: Customers make last-minute purchases at the Adams Avenue Book Store before it closes, July 13, 2018.

The Adams Avenue Book Store is nearing its final book sale. The shop is closing down after a 53-year run in San Diego.

Brian Lucas has owned the bookstore for the last 32 years and said having the store was not always about making money.

"For us, it’s always about creating a culture of books here," Lucas said. "I want to get people in the store."

The bookstore opened in 1965 and at its peak had more than 60,000 books on hundreds of different subjects. But, after a month of clearance sales, many of the shelves inside the store are now empty.

"People think, 'Where did this come from?' As if we just sat down a month ago and decided, 'No this isn’t going to work anymore,'" Lucas said. "We’ve been having these conversations for a number of years, so it’s nothing new."

Photo credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS

Adams Avenue Book Store owner Brian Lucas works on his laptop near the front of the store, July 13, 2018.

Lucas said the introduction of online book sales contributed to the store’s decline.

"Fewer and fewer people read books or journals in the old sense," he said. "They read on a device of some sort, on a screen. Every time we make a shift like that technologically it brings a lot of good and allows people to do things, but there’s always an impact."

For the Adams Avenue Book Store, that impact meant a declining customer base. Lucas said the shop used to have many regular customers — but those people have stopped showing up.

"Year by year you try to evaluate and say, 'OK what’s going on? This section isn't selling like it used to, where are these people?' and we talked to them — they just buy stuff online," he said.

After 32 years of running the bookstore, Lucas said he has no regrets.

"I love books and obviously to do this and to be silly enough to do it this long — but I love people more. The saddest thing for me is I’m going to miss a lot of those friendships. These are great people," Lucas said.

Adams Avenue Book Store will officially close Saturday. Any remaining books will be donated to local schools. Lucas said he owns the building but plans to sell it within the next couple of months.

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