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The bookstore-less streets of Laredo [updated]

December 17, 2009 |  5:23 pm

Laredo, Texas, is set to become the largest U.S. city without a bookstore. The B. Dalton in the Mall del Norte, owned by parent company Barnes & Noble, is slated to close next month. When it does, it will leave the city's close to 250,000 residents without a single bookstore. 

The Associated Press reports that letters from schoolchildren had no effect on the corporation's decision to shutter the B. Dalton; Barnes & Noble announced plans earlier this year to close all remaining B. Dalton outlets. "Corporate America considers Laredo kind of the backwater," said Jerry Thompson, an author who lives in Laredo and is a professor at Texas A&M International University.

Barnes & Noble, however, says it does think that Laredo can support a bookstore. It has its eyes on a site for a "large format" Barnes & Noble -- but that won't be ready until 2011.

With no independent bookstores in the city and the last chain outlet slated for closure, residents will have to travel about 150 miles across arid ranchland to San Antonio to buy books.

Unless they have an Internet connection, that is.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

[UPDATE: the original version of this post said that Jerry Thompson is a professor at Texas A&M University International. He is in fact a professor at Texas A&M International University.]

Photo: B. Dalton in the Mall del Norte in Laredo, Texas. Credit: Ricardo Santos / Associated Press