Cody’s on Telegraph is Closing

Cody’s Books on Telegraph in Berkeley will be closing on July 10 after being open there for 43 years. According to owner Andy Ross, the Telegraph store has lost over $1 million and its sales have declined by two-thirds since 1990. Cody’s stores on Fourth Street in Berkeley and Stockton Street in San Francisco will remain open.

In the press today, the owner of a Great Good Place for Books in Montclair was quoted as saying, “I can’t believe it. It’s a real indication that the climate of independent bookselling is really changing in the Bay Area. The fact that something we considered a mainstay will no longer be there—to me it’s saying good-bye to a friend. It’s like a death.”

It all sounds rather similar to the reaction that Kepler’s closing produced last summer.

I went to Cody’s four or more times a week when I lived in Berkeley from 2001 until 2003, and the store will be missed. I can say that I really only went there because I lived within walking distance, not being a big fan of Telegraph, in general. I think many of the concerns raised by Andy Ross and then echoed in the Mercury News article are legitimate and not just a cop-out. Of course, I was an anomaly–a Berkeley student who bought two to five books almost every week.

Was the problem that students don’t buy books or that Cody’s was in a place that was frequented largely by students?

Press coverage of the Cody’s closure:

  • Contra Costa Times: Farewell Coming for Telgraph Landmark
  • San Francisco Chronicle: Famed Bookstore’s Last Chapter
  • Inside Bay Area: Sales Lagging, Cody’s Closing
  • The Mercury has followed up with an article about the closing and its relationship to a deteriorating Telegraph Avenue marketplace for businesses:

    The owner of iconic record store Amoeba Records said Wednesday he has no immediate plans to close his Telegraph store but didn’t rule out the possibility.

    “Our stores in Los Angeles and the Haight (in San Francisco) are doing well, despite what’s happening in the industry,” Mark Weinstein said. “But our Telegraph store is hurting. And given the political climate in this city, I don’t see that changing.”

    Likewise, the Chronicle also has an article about the decline of business on Telegraph:

    Telegraph’s image problem — the street between Parker Street and campus is often littered and dirty, and homeless youth often loiter outside businesses — is hardly new, and the city has over the years made various efforts to clean things up.

    ….

    But Telegraph Avenue is also not alone in its economic woes, with downtown businesses hurting almost as much…. The entire city has seen sales tax receipts stagnate or decline, with the notable exception of the trendy Fourth Street shopping district that has seen almost consistent growth since the 1980s, he said.

    From the blogosphere:

  • Liz Mann, who blogs in letters, writes one to Andy Ross.
  • A husband and wife lament the closure of Cody’s.
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