Sad news from Columbia, SC: The Happy Bookseller, one of the most renowned independent bookstores in the Southeast, is closing in October. Co-owners Carrie and Andy Graves sent a letter to their customers earlier this week saying that competition not only from the internet but from two chain superstores that opened less than a mile away meant that the store could no longer earn enough money to support themselves and their two sons.
The Happy Bookseller was opened in 1974 by Rhett Jackson, who became a prominent member of the southern bookselling community. His enthusiasm and exuberant personality made him an unmistakable presence at regional gatherings, and he worked hard to promote independent bookselling in this area of the country. In 1996 he sold the store to Andy and Carrie Graves, who actually first met each other when they both worked there.
As might be expected, the reaction from the store's regular customers has been one of sadness and disbelief. One customer, a literature professor at the University of South Carolina, did not mince words: "The closing of The Happy Bookseller is a disaster for the cultural scene in Columbia."
More on The Happy Bookseller and its closing can be found here.