BookNation, which in September celebrated its 20th anniversary as an independently owned bookstore, will close its downtown Terre Haute store in January.
“We’ve had a good run, but it’s not getting any easier to keep a bookshop open in today’s world,” said owner Todd Nation.
“Our current store at 675 Wabash is our fifth location within a block of the Crossroads of America intersection since we started in 1991,” Nation said. “When we opened at 675 [Wabash] over three years ago, our goal was to get the business through its 20th birthday and assess whether to continue to have a storefront or not. It’s been fun, but the shop has run its course.”
Nation, a Terre Haute city councilman for District 4, said he will lease out the bookstore space for another business. He owns the building along Wabash Avenue which houses the bookstore. The third story is his home, where he and his wife, Jenny Goodwin-Nation, and their three teenage children live.
He will continue to operate BookNation on the second story of his building as a small online venture, providing bulk book sales to businesses, clubs and institutions.
Nation said he also manages apartments and commercial property as Nation Properties. In addition, he plans to expand his work as a carpentry contractor with an emphasis on repairing and re-purposing old buildings. “I believe in the value of historic preservation and one way to manifest that is to put on a tool belt and work,” Nation said.
Until January, Nation said he intends to sell his bookstore supply, which has more than 10,000 books. “Our goal is to sell off most, if not all, of the existing stock that is in the shop,” he said.
BookNation will continue to order new and used books for individual customers until the store closes, most likely in mid-January, Nation said.
Nation, a 1987 graduate of Purdue University, spent 21⁄2 years in the U.S. Peace Corps as a volunteer English teacher in Thailand. He lived in Indianapolis and then Chicago after his return to the States.
He then moved back to Terre Haute, starting his book store after purchasing the former Campbell’s Book Shop from Ira and Peg Campbell in 1991. For the first decade, his mother, Nancy, helped daily with the business.
The book industry has had two big trends in the last 20 years, Nation said. First was the rise of big box stores such as Borders or Barnes & Noble. Then came the rise of online book merchants, such as Amazon.
“Arguably the big box stores are starting to decline. The closing of Walden’s bookstore at the Honey Creek Mall is a symptom of that decline, since it was owned by Borders, which went out of business,” Nation said.
A third trend, Nation said, is the growth of small independent stores in large cities.
“My judgment of the Terre Haute market, where we are at and where we have been, Terre Haute is not really in a position to support an independent [book] store yet. Maybe things will change in the future,” Nation said.
BookNation will remain open Monday through Friday from 11 am to 5 p.m. For information about the books, fixtures or renting the shop space, call Nation at (812) 232-2595.
Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@