Yes, Newtonville Books in Newton, Mass., is shuttering its five-year-old connected children's bookstore, the Lizard's Tale, and selling down its inventory with a week-long 40% off sale that begins on Saturday. But that's the only similarity to other stories about children's bookstore closings. For one thing, the store hasn't lost money. In fact, according to co-owner Jaime Clarke, sales have increased at Newtonville for each of the past three years that he and his wife, Mary Cotton, have owned it. Plus this story has a happy ending. Cotton and Clarke haven't aren't abandoning children's books. They are reintegrating them into Newtonville's inventory. As for the space occupied by the Lizard's Tale, it will become a Used Book Annex at the beginning of next month.
"We just don't sell enough children's books to support the space. It's clear by our numbers that we're just carrying too many children's books," Cotton told Wicked Local Newton. While children's has been strong, the numbers are out of sync with the 1,300 sq. ft. currently devoted to them. Children's constitutes roughly 30% of Newtonville's sales, but occupies one half of Newtonville's total selling space.
Initially, Cotton and Clarke planned to sell Lizard's Tale and put it on the market in February, after renegotiating the lease. "Newton is a vibrant community full of children and the time is right for a new owner to take what we have built and nurtured and grow it into something even greater," Cotton said at the time.
Two months later they have changed their mind about how best to maintain the 12-year-old's store's character—and to keep it healthy. "We realized that we wanted Newtonville Books to be a full-service independent bookstore, so it should sell kids' books," Clarke says. "And since we've introduced used books into the inventory, Newtonites have been asking about when we'd start buying and selling used books on a larger scale."
The pair have no intention of cutting back significantly on children's or adult titles, just on total number of copies. "Instead of carrying 10 copies of a book, we'll carry two, and order more as they sell," Clarke says. "We're naturally having to reduce the size of some of the sections, but we also have been carrying a fair amount of used fiction and mystery, which will obviously flip over to the Used Book Annex."
The annex will carry paperbacks only, with an emphasis on fiction and mystery. In addition it will sell history, religion, travel writing, biography and memoir, language, philosophy, and psychology.
As for the Lizard's Tale name, which Clarke and Cotton inherited from the previous owner, it will be discontinued.