Defunct Books is living up to its name, at least in Spokane.
The half-century-old secondhand bookstore at 123 S. Wall St. will close at the end of this month. It will reopen 15,000 books lighter in a new, albeit smaller, storefront in Iowa City, Iowa.
“I’ve met a lot of interesting people, and I have some great regular customers I’m going to miss,” said Gregory Delzer, who purchased the store in 2003.
Delzer has already moved a 24-foot-long truck full of books to Iowa and plans to move another truckload. The 15,000 remaining books will be closed out at the Spokane store or auctioned off at 11 a.m. July 15, he said.
Bookseller Dean Gilbert opened what was then known as Inland Bookstore in the 1950s. The store was originally on Sprague Avenue downtown, before the business was sold to Jerome Carlson. Carlson moved the shop to the current location in the former Magic Lantern theater building.
Four years ago, Delzer bought the bookstore from a different owner, added Internet sales and changed the name to Defunct Books.
Although a number of independent bookstores have closed in the past few years, Delzer said that in-store sales steadily increased at Defunct Books. The Web site became a success, he said, and now accounts for two-thirds of the book sales.
Besides demand for the latest used-version of bestsellers, he said, people are also looking for niche books that cater to specific interests and are hard to find because they weren’t printed in great numbers.
Spokane has been a great place to acquire books, Delzer said, adding that he visited yard sales, estate sales and auctions and purchased books from individuals. Although chain stores make it tough for small bookstores to compete, he said, small eBay sellers compete for some of the same inventory and customers.
With big chain stores on the rise, and Spokane having fewer and fewer independent bookstores, Delzer questions the longevity of the small shops in the local marketplace. “It’s dying,” he said. “You’ve got your last gasp at this point.”