So, alas, storied 50+-year-old Berkeley bookstore Cody’s, firebombed in the ’80s for displaying Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, has closed rather abruptly due to flagging sales. I’m not going to go into the ironic narrative possibilities here — Rushdie was just in town this week to give a rare reading, and, like, where were the ubiquitous Berkeley treesitters protesting a legendary bookstore’s closure? Nor will this turn into another apocalyptic lecture on how the Internet is killing independent bookstores. I still retain vast hope that some can and will survive. Go shop a freakin’ independent bookstore, already! They’re awesome.
Photo from SFGate
Still, this news is pretty awful. The loss of a bookstore, to me, a complete ga-ga book hound and former indie bookstore manager, is a physical wound. If Amazon closed tomorrow, I’d miss nothing, remember vaguely. But I’ll always fondly recall the way the morning sun shone a certain way through Cody’s political books aisles and, a romantic Midwest native, thinking, “Cool. I’m in Berkeley, browsing through political books in the morning.”
Yes, there were some quality issues after the store moved from its original Telegraph location to Shattuck a little while ago. And sure, it could have concentrated more on used and antiquarian book sales, the last line of many indie booksellers’ defense. But, dudes, Cody’s closed. That’s kind of freaky. I’ll miss it.