After 24 years in business, Russo’s Books closed its doors and sold its furniture, no longer welcoming bookworms and comic book readers alike.
Russo’s opened in 1989 and announced in December that their business would move completely online, closing its location on Ming Avenue where they had been for the last 17 years.
According to Californian staff writer, Steve Levin, in his Dec. 15 article, bookstore owner, Michael Russo, said impending lease increases and changing reading habits caused the closure.
This bookstore didn’t only sell books; it was an outlet for local authors to sell their work. It held almost daily events such as Storytime with Miss Lynn and hosted tournaments and open play for card players of Magic the Gathering, Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh.
Once a month was open mic poetry night, where poets and writers gathered, sharing and commenting on their personal work. Russo’s had book signings with famous authors and midnight release parties for highly anticipated books.
A few events have found homes in other venues, but that doesn’t satisfy book lovers. Sarah Jamison, 54, was surprised to find the store had closed. She stopped by to purchase a book for her grandson. “I had no clue it was closing,” she said. “It’s ridiculous. I always just come here; it’s so easy and small. You can just pop in and out and be done.”
Angela Barrios, 38, had planned the trip to Russo’s as a part of her family’s Saturday afternoon. Along with her husband and three children, Angela was surprised to find the doors locked.
“We thought we’d walk around the store a little bit,” she said. “I guess we won’t be doing that anymore. We didn’t come here a lot and I don’t think I bought stuff very often. I mostly just download books; the kids I know buy books online. So I’m not surprised, it’s just the way things are going now days.”
Russo’s will be surviving through their website russosbooks.com. The online store offers used and new merchandise. Textbooks include free shipping and are often available in rental or electronic form. A newly remodeled website will launch in February. A new office has also opened, located at 1601 New Stine Road with a phone line available seven days a week.
The company is continuing their focus on benefitting schools, churches, non-profit organizations, and local businesses. Russo’s offers services such as discounts, bulk orders and rebinding worn-out textbooks.
The bookstore might be closed but it is not gone. They will continue to support the community and their inventory of three million books available online.