Laredo May Become Country's Largest City Without A Bookstore

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The dusty border town of Laredo is losing its B. Dalton bookstore, like a lot of other cities across the nation.

The thing is, the B. Dalton is the only bookstore in Laredo. And the Associated Press says that will likely make the city the largest in America without a bookstore.

Schoolchildren are writing letters to Barnes & Noble, which owns the chain, pleading for a reprieve. In response, Barnes & Noble executives said the kids should instead be playing video games and smoking dope.

Actually, they said they are hoping to put a relatively large B&N store in the city, but the property they have their eye on won't be available for 18 months.

The Laredo Chamber of Commerce won't exactly be jumping with joy over the AP article. Some highlights:

-- "Some worry that the closing could send a message that books and reading are not priorities in Laredo, a hot, steamy city of 230,000 that is choked by smog from trucks lining up at the border, which is home to the nation's biggest entry point for trucks and trains." Make your vacation plans now!!

-- The city Laredo is compared unfavorably to: Newark, New Jersey.

Though an independent bookstore is the only one of its kind in Newark, N.J., a city of nearly 288,000, big chains are nearby in the suburbs or New York City. Laredo is surrounded by nothing more than rural ranching towns on its side of the border.

"We suffer, but we don't suffer to the extent that a Laredo would," said Wilma Grey, director of the Newark Public Library.

When you've got Newark referring to you as "a Laredo," you know you're in trouble.

-- A Laredo resident brings up something that makes the town fathers look like yahoos.

As Elaine Perry walked out of the bookstore earlier this month with a heavy bag of hardcovers, she criticized a recent proposal to build an indoor snow park.

"A snowboarding park in Laredo," Perry said. "Have you ever heard of anything so stupid?"

Good point. But one made by someone who obviously reads books, so it can be dismissed.

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