When B. Dalton's closes, Laredo, Tex., will be the largest city in the US with no bookstore.
If it were a movie, the ending to this story would have been quite different. What ought to have happened was that the letters of schoolchildren and the hopes of humble townsfolk would have made a difference, and – somehow – in a last-minute Christmas miracle, somebody would have found a way to save the last bookstore in Laredo, Tex.
But, come to think of it, this was a movie. In "You've Got Mail," Meg Ryan and a cluster of her loyal customers struggled to keep her tiny children's bookstore afloat in the face of giant Fox Books. Yet they too lost out, watching the store spin out its last lonely hours just as the rest of their city was filling with holiday cheer.
And now, unfortunately, in Laredo life is imitating art. Despite a "Laredo Reads" campaign by customers, a resolution by the city council, and a letter-writing blitz by a local 4th-grade class, the city's 30-year-old B. Dalton bookstore will close next month, making Laredo (pop. 250,000) the largest US city with no bookstore. (The nearest substitute will be in San Antonio, 150 miles away.)
It's not just Laredo losing its B. Dalton. Corporate parent Barnes & Noble is shuttering all B. Daltons nationwide.