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BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for January 27, 2009

The Book Exchange to shutter in February after 75 years

Another long-time Durham business is calling it quits, and this one stings the readers among us.

The Book Exchange -- which has toiled since the beginnings of the Great Depression -- is closing its covers for good on February 14, according to this morning's Herald-Sun.

Still owned and run by the founder's daughter, a Miami-based attorney, the store had remained in the black until the last three years, but saw its sales deeply impacted by Internet sales and by university bookstores becoming more competitive.

The Book Exchange has been a fixture in local law school circles, with its staff knowing what books the profs at Central, Duke, UNC, and Campbell liked to use -- and what study guides and addenda might be best suited to steer through their courses.

The Herald-Sun adds:

Feinberg said the name of the business was for sale for the price of the property the family owns, in case someone is interested in keeping it open as a bookstore.

"I know that a lot of people are going to be broken-hearted because there are a lot of people who just love that store and come in just to browse," Feinberg said.

She said customers were sometimes locked in after close because they had lost track of time browsing in one of the back rooms.

Sales will be running until the store closes on Feb. 14, Feinberg said.


John A

I remember coming to "downtown" Durham some 20ish years ago and finding only one business: The Book Exchange. That's sad, but Durham is changing and that is good.




If i had deep pockets, I would buy them out, keep the bookstore on the ground level, re-open the partially bricked up windows on the upper floors, and renovate the upper floors into residential space...

Tar Heelz

What a terrible loss. But for the knowledgable folks at the Book Exchange, I could never have escaped 1L Civil Procedure.

Jonathan Jones

Law students across the state will surely be saddened.

I couldn't buy all my law books there this semester, for the first time, because they didn't have them.

Apparently the credit crisis caused some of their suppliers to pull back on how many books they could bring in on credit. So they didn't have what I needed for one of my specialty classes and I had to go to the student store. Several of my classmates said they had the same problem for other classes.

Gladys Kravitz

Wild! Saturday I attended the Northgate Waldenbooks last day of biz sale, and a fellow customer there told the over-inundated clerk that she (the customer) works at the Book Exchange...and it'd been in biz 75 years! The clerk looked as if he could care less.

Well, it'd be swell if someone took it over and kept it rocking.

Simon Karpen

If anybody is thinking about trying to take over the building/space/business and restart it, they should first take a trip to downtown Asheville and visit Malaprop's. It's an independent bookstore that seems to have done very well at becoming a destination, instead of losing customers to the chains.

From poking around at the closing sale, Book Ex looks like something that peaked in the 70s. Lots of really out of date backstock (70s blender cookbooks anybody?) and strange organization of the non-textbook books.


Right, the fact that they shelve books by publisher, not subject or author, is one of the store's many quirks. Maddening to some, charming to others. Perhaps not the most rational business model, but somehow very Durham.


When I lived in Durham I used to go to this place like once a week. This is definitely sad.

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