“The End is Near!” or so says a sign taped to the outside of the Atlantic Book Shop, next to a silhouette of a man with a gun to his head. Beneath that: “30 percent off everything.” The store, once the famous 12th Street Books of Manhattan, is closing its doors at the end of this month. Tucked between Sahadi’s and Key Food on Atlantic Avenue, the store has all the hallmarks of a classic: impossibly tall shelves, claustrophobic aisles, and, to the newcomer, what seems like a secret room not visible from the front. It is where I picked up my first Paul Auster, where I browsed on my lunch break, and where I went to get my fix for that musty book smell. It’s always sad to see the end of a good independent business, but it’s no surprise when you consider the industry overall. Brokelyn has a guide to the rest of the used book stores in the borough, who may see an uptick in sales with one less competitor; but, just as John Donne once wrote of man, no book store is an island entire of itself. To see one vanish foreshadows that we may be approaching the last days of the bookstore way of life.
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