Independent bookstores are dropping like flies in the Indianapolis metro, a region that’s been especially hard hit by the recession. In late December, Outword Bound, an 11-year-old indie specializing in GLBT titles shut its doors, as its two co-owners could no longer juggle their full-time jobs elsewhere and their responsibilities at the bookstore.
This week, two other Indianapolis area stores announced that, unless they find buyers soon, they too will shut their doors. The Mystery Company in Carmel, founded by Jim Huang in 2003, is planning on closing in early February after its last author event, an offsite book launch scheduled for February 9 for Book Seven: Dragons Released by Jeff Stone. The Wild, a children’s bookstore founded by Jane Mills in 2005, plans on closing when its lease expires at the end of February.
Huang, a veteran bookseller well-known in the mystery book world as co-founder of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association and co-chair of Bouchercon last fall, started his career at Spenser’s Mystery Books in Boston in 1987, and owned Deadly Passions Mystery Bookshop in Kalamazoo, Mich. from 1992-2000. He told PW that he decided to close down The Mystery Company because his wife’s job is on shaky ground in this roiling economy, and also because he “has been in an independent bookstore environment for 22 years and is ready to do something new.” He is starting his new job, bookstore manager at the Kenyon College Bookstore, in Gambier, Ohio, on February 15.
As for Mills, she cites her spouse’s cut in pay as part of a “perfect storm” that is closing her store, located in Noblesville. She also blames the opening of a “shiny new” Borders opening 18 months ago in a development near her store, which caused a 37% decline in sales, though her store is still profitable with a “loyal and enthusiastic client list” of 1000 customers. “We had a really strong 2007,” she told PW, “But on my monthly sales sheets, I can see exactly when the [Borders store] opened.”