Sigh. Sad but predictable. By the mid-1990s the general bookstore had been being squeezed for 20 years or so by the discount chains (B.Dalton, Crown, Walden), and for about half as long by the upmarket chains with something resembling real selection (Barnes & Noble, Borders). Then along came Amazon.
Wordsworth quickly became my favorite bookstore when I moved to Boston. I spent many hours there, wandering the shelves, browsing. I'd been avoiding chain bookstores since I worked for one in the 80s and saw from the inside just how little interest in books and reading they had. And I'd seen a lot of independent bookstores close in the years since. So when Amazon came along, I understood that if they succeeded, it would be another nail in the general bookstore's coffin. I refused to use Amazon on principle, and sometimes urged others not to — until I got a $10 Amazon gift certificate at a Cisco hospitality suite. So I created an account and ordered a book. A few months later I heard a review of a book on NPR and went to Wordsworth to get it, and they didn't have it. Neither did the Harvard Bookstore (the Coop was closed). So I ordered it from Amazon too. A few months later I went looking for another book. Wordsworth didn't have it either, and when I asked them about special ordering it, they said "three weeks". Amazon said they could ship it the same day, and they did. Again a few months after that.
And now, suddenly, it's 2004. I probably haven't been to Wordsworth twice in this millennium, they're bankrupt — and I feel like a cad.