With Word of Big Bookstores Closing, Can Books A Million Buck the Trend?

Given the continuation of big bookstores closing in DC, I always stop and pause when I pass Books A Million on Dupont Circle. I always wonder how much longer they’ll be able to survive in that prime (and likely expensive) location if at all. Do you guys think Books a Million can survive here? If so why? If not, how much longer do you think they have?

26 Comment

  • I hope so. I like stopping in there sometimes. I love book stores in general, and I hope at least one or 2 remain. It makes me sad to see them go.

  • I’ve always found Book A Million kind of dingy and blah, but I am now rooting for each and every bookstore that still exists. Although I never shop here because I prefer to support Kramerbooks down the street.

    Recently I decided to ONLY buy books in brick-and-mortar bookstores (which is hard to do these days). I know they are cheaper on Amazon. I know it would be more convenient to just get a Kindle. I accept the fact that bookstores ARE going to go extinct just like record stores. But. I’m stubborn and illogical and I don’t want to play a part in it. 🙂

    • Politics and Prose sells e-books online that work with pretty much everything except Kindle.

      • I’ve heard that too, and while it doesn’t make sense to me to avoid Kindle titles outright. the licensing model must really suck for retail partners.

        I’m so hooked on e-books over print that I find book stores mostly irrelevant. It’s a quaint concept and I respect people who are serious about books, but I read at least 5x faster on ebooks than I do paper, given the ability to read virtually anywhere on my phone and in short increments without lugging around books.

        fwiw, I’m more into eLENDING from libraries than eBUYING

    • I love Kramerbooks, and I’d be so sad to see it go. It’s special. I particularly love how they display books in the store. It really facilitates browsing. I always walk out of there with a book I didn’t plan on buying.

      I made a similar vow: only buy books from local stores. I love them, so I should show them so love. I hope to never have to switch to an eReader even as I run out of shelf (and increasingly floor) space for books 🙂

      • Kramerbooks will be OK I’m sure since they have, you know, a liquor license. Apparently diversification is the key to bookstore survival.

        Its funny, I used to be so adamant about buying from llocal bookstores rather than Borders, Barnes and Noble, and the other giants. Now I’d even support those!

        • brookland_rez

          Books A Million is trying a new concept in an attempt to diversify. They have a new concept that sells used books, DVDs, music, etc. It’s called “2nd and Charles”. Books A Million is headquartered in Birmingham, AL. I was there last fall and went to the prototype store for 2nd and Charles. I noticed the last time I was at Potomac Mills in Woodbridge that they now have one there in the old Borders space.

  • I’m amazed they’ve survived to date. Any time I’ve been inside, there have only been a handful of customers. I don’t see how they can possibly afford to stay in business.

    • I’ve heard that as a company Books A Million has been taking over closed Borders stores. In my hometown, apparently they re-opened Borders as a Books A Million. They didn’t need to remodel anything and it is basically exactly the same, except a bit more cluttered and not as nice. Maybe that’s how they are surviving?

  • It seems like they do a decent business whenever I’ve stopped in. They have a great magazine selection and, now that Borders is no more, one of the few places around to go and browse through.

    As the other poster said, I too have decided to buy more books from brick and mortar stores and fewer from Amazon. I hope they survive.

  • I would guess a year, taking into account that location.

  • In terms of quality and selection, I’ve always ranked the big book stores this way, from best to worst: 1)Barnes and Noble, 2)Borders and 3)Books-A-Million. It’s surprising that the worst of the three, at least in my opinion, will apparently be the survivor.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see books-a-million go in the next few years, but the smaller book stores (politics and prose, kramer books, etc) seem to be doing great since borders/bn started closing.

  • It’s crazy that it’s survived this long. They’ve always been just as (if not more) expensive as the others and seem to have a worse selection of books. It’s a fantastic location, though, so I suppose that helps. Every time I’ve been in there, I’ve been unimpressed.

  • I’m an avid reader and I think I’ve bought maybe one book in the last 6 years there. Weak selection given its size.

  • Tne one that would make me the most sad would be losing Kramerbooks.

  • The one that would make me the most sad would be losing Kramerbooks.

  • To paraphrase what someone said upthread, it’s sad and a bit ironic that the shittiest of the Big Bookstores would be the one to survive. Books-A-Million is like the worst of bookstores distilled to its essence.

  • Doubt they’ll be there too much longer. And good riddance. Their selection is terrible for such a large space and seemed to cater to flavor of the month pop stuff (Nicole Ritchie’s recent “novel” being the prime example).
    Not sure why anyone would stop in when Kramer Books is literally right around the corner. Hmmm, maybe Kramer’s prolonged survival (based on slinging booze/food + kickass selection) will serve as a good model for replication. Fingers crossed!

  • They’re toast. Just a matter of time.

  • I think some of the physical characteristics of the space might actually be working in their favor rent-wise. They have tiny short windows that are only about three feet tall, and since the store is halfway below ground, that’s very difficult to change. Most retailers and many restaurants want full-height windows and 100% at-grade spaces. Also, it’s the only tenant on that “wedge” of Dupont Circle, and there’s no significant retail on the other faces of that block, so foot traffic is lower there – most people (at least in my observation) prefer to cross into the circle and then back out at the wedge they need, rather than cross around the perimeter. So, they might be doing a little bit better than one would think.

  • I’m surprised book-a-million has lasted as long as it has. And I wish I wasn’t condescended to and treated with (near) contempt at Kramerbooks. Customer service anyone?
    I happily bought two books at Politics & Prose today.

  • I appreciate Books A Million solely for its magazine selection. Kramer Books, while better to shop for…actual books, has a measly mag selection. The only other option in Dupont is that deli/souvenier/paper store near the strip club on Columbia…this city lacks a good art-house book and magazine store…or have I just missed it?

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