Thursday, April 29, 2004

Books in the Barrio

For all the talk and debate I hear about the general population not reading or caring about books, sometimes a ray of sunshine breaks through all the doom and gloom and gives me hope that there is a future for the written word. For years, a community activist group called Books in the Barrio has been fighting to get a bookstore opened on San Antonio's south side. Now, San Antonio's south side has a tremendous population. But it's mostly Hispanic and working class. That side of the city is mostly known for colonial-era Spanish missions and used to be dominated by military bases, until most of them were shuttered in the '90s. In a nutshell, it's not the high-income, upwardly-mobile neighborhood most chains covet for new bookstores. Fortunately, Books in the Barrio's efforts are paying off:
Hard work and economic growth finally are paying off for South Side students, community and business leaders — they're getting a major chain bookstore in South Park Mall this summer.

Tim Duda, a South San High School teacher who long has lobbied for a South Side bookstore, thinks the continued publicity and constant correspondence with various bookstores helped convince Waldenbooks to plan the 3,000-square-foot store, which is to open in July.

For six years, students in Duda's economics classes campaigned to bring in bookstores, which bloom in a wide band across the city's North Side. The students organized "Books in the Barrio," which called for bringing a bookstore south of downtown through public activities such as poetry readings at South Park Mall.

The full story can be read online here: Bookstore means a new chapter in S. Side history. Sure, it's only a Waldenbooks, but I remember growing up in tiny Columbus, Texas, where we didn't even have that, and visiting a Waldenbooks or B. Dalton in a mall in Houston or Victoria was a big deal. A Waldenbooks will be a great addition to the area, particularly if they follow through on commitments to tailor their stock to the community's interests.

While I don't doubt this wouldn't have happened without Books in the Barrio's unceasing efforts, the cynic in me suspects that the huge new Toyota truck plant being built just down the road probably played just as big--if not bigger--role in the Waldenbooks decision.

Hmm. I wonder if they'd have any interest in a science fiction book signing next spring...

Now Playing: Melissa Etheridge Your Little Secret

No comments:

Post a Comment