The pending closure of Russo's Books' physical store in Bakersfield is a blow to readers who love the experience of browsing, interacting and buying in an independent brick-and-mortar bookstore.
For authors, the closure prompts a completely different set of reactions. There's the loss of an ally in offering shelf space or promotion for local writers, particularly those who are self-published. There's one fewer space for literary events, such as author readings and book signings. And with Russo's closing -- and with it the last of the San Joaquin Valley's independent bookstores will be no more -- there's yet more doubt that anyone cares about literature.
Wait. Hold on. Local author Nick Belardes, while bemoaning Russo's closure and the wake it will create, writes, he's "not going to cry about the store closing."
Belardes, who has published through both traditional and non-traditional routes and has been a visible proponent of local authors, offers some straightforward advice: Don't rely on others to be the solution.
"If you're in Bakersfield or another city with only mainstream bookstores, support your literary community. Offer readings at your places of establishment. Create community. Foster dreams. Russo's Books may come back better than ever. In the meantime, I'm moving forward and not going to cry about the store closing."