BookBuyers, the used bookstore that has been a mainstay in downtown Mountain View for more than 25 years, will be closing its Castro Street location in the coming weeks due to lackluster sales. Store owner Hotranatha Ajaya said he fully intends to keep the popular store open, and is searching for a new home for the business and its inventory of more than 300,000 titles.
Ajaya said he recently informed the bookstore's staff of the news and assured them he was working to find a new location. He said moving out of the current location became necessary as the business fell behind in rent.
His landlord has been "unbelievably good" in supporting the business despite its losses, he said.
As it stands, BookBuyers will close its doors in mid-April with plans to be out of the space by the end of May. Ajaya said he had a lead on a potential new space for the business in Mountain View, but no deal had been finalized yet. His business needs a space of at least 5,000 square feet, and he urged anyone with a lead on a new location to contact him.
Most of all, he said he wanted to assure his customers and employees that he would do his best to keep the business going. Always optimistic, he said the "silver lining" is his business had been seeing strong numbers at its literary events and other activities, even though that didn't translate into sales.
"We're still committed to keep this going and to increase our community involvement in the process," he said. "Many people are coming in here and this is definitely a happier place. The only thing that's not helping us right now is sales."
BookBuyers' landlord, Leslie Mills, said she has tried her best to help the bookstore as it struggled in recent years. On two occasions, she said she had agreed to drop the rent to get the business back on its feet. But as the store began falling behind on its payments, she approached Ajaya to see if he would scale down his business. In the end, they couldn't find a way to make that idea work, she said.
She hopes Ajaya, whom she described as "the hardest working guy," will find a way to keep the bookstore going, perhaps with the help of an outside investor.
"I really would like them to stay, but unfortunately, maybe books are just a thing of the past," Mills said. "If people truly love this place, they need to step up."
Ajaya has long been upfront with his clientele that his bookstore was skating on thin ice. Last April, he announced that BookBuyers was on the verge of closing but he pledged to make a last stand to save the business.
On Monday, Ajaya told the Voice that the same philosophy was behind his effort to resurrect BookBuyers in a new location.
"We refuse to give in until it becomes impossible to go forward," he said. "I think these things are forcing us to do what we need to do. I see this as a positive even though it's really nerve-wracking."