Bookstores are dying, unless you look in Athens

Bookstores are dying across the United States. Over the past 12 years, nearly 12,000 brick-and-mortar bookstores closed their doors, with projections indicating that another 2,000 will shut down in the next two years.

Statista figures originally from IBIS World

Fortunately, Athens appears to be relatively untouched by this trend. Although the long-running Athens Book Center closed last year, there are still three bookstores on a single street, each continuing to thrive. Granted, these continue to succeed due to the sale of textbooks, but the stores also offer a large selection of general reading materials — stop in to pick up your latest biology textbook and leave with a copy of “Infinite Jest.”

But it isn’t just standard bookstores that have found success in Athens. As the map below shows, a number of other “dying” industries continue to defy trends in Athens, including video rental at Premiere Video. A Yelp review for the store even expresses surprise that a video store can survive in an era of Netflix and other streaming services. Nearly two years after it was written, Premiere Video is still standing.

And then there are the hobby stores. While it would be incredibly easy to purchase comics, “Magic” cards, retro video games, or figurines online, Athens currently has two places where the nerdiest among us can go to check out these products in person. Comic book store Wizard’s Guild has seen continued success, but another shop recently popped up on the map. Phoenix Nest Games, which specializes in both tabletop and retro video games, not only gives customers a chance to scour for the rare titles, but also offers playing space for groups interested in battling it out.

The numbers don’t lie. Bookstores and hobby shops may soon become relics like drive-in theaters or film stores — and video rental stores are certainly firmly “relics” already — but Athens has remained remarkably unaffected.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);

Gabe Gurwin

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