Barnes & Noble reaches end of Town Center chapter

“It is with great sadness that we announce the closure of this Barnes & Noble bookstore” reads the announcement posted to the Barnes & Noble account (Photo courtesy of @bncortemadera).

On Jan. 23, the Barnes & Noble Corte Madera Instagram account announced the upcoming closure of its Town Center location. A long-time resident of the complex, the chain bookstore’s 17-year lease will not be renewed. There will be a 40 percent off sale for all merchandise until the last day of operation, March 12.

Kaz Hart, a senior at Tamalpais High School, has worked at the Barnes & Noble Café since October. They are unclear as to why Town Center decided against continuing the lease.

“I know that [Barnes & Noble] tried to reason with [the Town Center management] or figure out why the lease wouldn’t be renewed for the past year. Truthfully, I have no idea why it’s happening,” Hart said.

The Town Center management did not respond to a request for comment on their decision.

Senior Caroline Goodrich was surprised to hear of Barnes & Noble’s closure. She had fond memories of the bookstore and mentioned that she and her dad always celebrated accomplishments with a visit to Barnes & Noble.

“When I finally finished the ACT, that kind of thing, [my dad] would say, ‘Go choose a book,’ which was really fun. [Barnes & Noble] also had really cool author events — [my dad and I] would get to go see people that we knew present their books and it felt really special,” Goodrich said.

Hart similarly noted Barnes & Noble’s role as a community space. During their time working at the in-store cafe, they noted that the bookstore was a special place for regulars.

“Because [Barnes & Noble has] been [in Town Center] for such a long time, I’ve noticed we have a lot of older customers who come in a lot and will stay there for the entire day. You get to know them by name because of how frequently they come by,” Hart said.

Taking a look at the summary on the back of a novel, junior Hannah Ritola decides to take advantage of the sale and purchase a book.

Junior Hannah Ritola is an ambitious reader and longtime customer of the store. Ritola read 106 books in 2022 and plans to read even more this year. Although she does check out books from the local library, Barnes & Noble was her go-to store to purchase copies of her favorites.

“I go to Barnes & Noble about every other week. I’m devastated — obviously, there are other bookstores in the area and I can order online, but Barnes & Noble is so close to Redwood,” Ritola said. “It’s so convenient, and they have such a wide selection of books. I buy gifts there for birthdays and holidays; I do homework in the cafe. Now that it’s closing, where am I going [to go]?” 

Hart spoke of the experience of the closure from an employee perspective. They noticed an increase of people coming in for the sales, but also remarked on the mood of the staff.

“A lot [of employees] have worked there together for a long time. It’s sad — it feels like there’s something in the air that says, ‘Oh, this is all going to end,’ and every now and then you’re reminded of it. Someone will say, ‘We’re not getting any more shipments because we have to get rid of everything,’ and you remember the closure is happening,” Hart said. 

Despite feeling glum about the situation, they wondered what would come next for the mall.

“Honestly, it’s very hard to picture anything else being in that space. If [I] could [choose what’s] replacing it, [I would want] another bookstore. I hope that whatever comes next can provide that space for people to just be in. For all of our frequent customers, it just seems like Barnes & Noble was a very comfortable place for them,” Hart said.