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Will another indie bookstore bite the dust?

April 30, 2008 |  3:52 pm

Is_this_book_store_doomed Even as sorrowful customers see Dutton's through its last hours of business today, another beloved neighborhood bookseller finds itself on life support. It's Libreria Martinez in Santa Ana, which started life as a small shelf of secondhand books in then-hair cutter (and now MacArthur grantee) Ruben Martinez's barber shop.

Today, Martinez owns two small bookstores, which — though they serve as neighborhood centers, with readings, discussion groups, community meetings and visits from world-renowned authors — are in serious financial trouble. Poor economy, too many people shopping the chains and Amazon.com — you know the drill.

Unless Libreria Martinez gets some customer love, pronto, the place is in real trouble, says Gustavo Arreleno, columnist for the OC Weekly. The store's already giving a 40% discount on some of the books, hoping to pull in more business. (And, in case you're wondering about where Martinez's grant money goes, it's paid out by the MacArthur Foundation in quarterly chunks. All of it goes to the store.)

Do bookstores matter? Where did the books on your nightstand come from?

—Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times