Mountain View's landmark downtown bookstore, Books Inc., is planning to leave its Castro Street location of 15 years But it won't be going far.
Books Inc.'s new home will be roughly 50 feet down the street at a vacant space that used to house the second-hand bookstore BookBuyers.
Why is an established bookstore stepping into another's old home? Books Inc. Manager Glen Robbe said the move comes mainly due to financial reasons. They signed a 10-year lease to take over the 317 Castro Street location at a price much less than if they stayed put, he said. Plus, the move should be a piece of cake since it's just one door down, he said.
"This should be a really simple move We should be able to just put things in carts and roll them down the sidewalk," he said. "We're really excited about this. I think it's going to be a better experience for the customer."
There's definitely some pros and cons with the new location, Robbe said. The owner of the former Bookbuyers site is upgrading the location with new lighting and converting the large floor into three separate store spaces. Losing the lucrative corner location will be unfortunate, Robbe said, but the new space should provide more room for a children's area.
Leslie Mills, the owner of the 317 Castro Street location, plans to partition the former BookBuyers store into three separate commercial spaces. Books Inc. will be taking over about 4,000 square feet of space, roughly the same size at their current location. Meanwhile, the international bakery chain Paris Baguette has also recently announced plans to move in next door, so long as they can get city permits. That still remains tentative since city officials have been reluctant to sanction more downtown restaurant space, explained landlord Leslie Mills.
The change for Books Inc. comes as bad news for its upstairs neighbor, the coffee shop Caffe Romanza. When the bookshop's lease expires in May, Romanza owner Jay Kim said he would also need to relocate. But so far he hasn't been able to find a new space, and he said his prospects aren't good for finding something affordable downtown. He is mulling possibly relocating further south, perhaps even as far as San Jose.
Even as the retail industry for books has dwindled in recent years, the Bay Area chain Books Inc. has shown remarkable resilience and even some growth. The chain currently has nine neighborhood stores and two smaller shops at the SFO airport. Next year, the bookseller company plans to open its 10th store at the Pruneyard Shopping Center in Campbell.
Smaller bookstores have benefited in recent years from the decline of large "superstore" booksellers like Borders, said Hut Landon of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association in an earlier interview with the Voice.