The rows of books at Copperfield's Books in Santa Rosa are lit with sunlight, and seniors can easily amble into the cafe from the parking on both sides. And when store manager Thomas Graham places books of a politically conservative nature on the shelves, his liberal-leaning customers often hide them behind what they consider to be less offensive fare.

But the look and feel of the independent bookstore that has been a community institution for decades is about to change, as the store prepares to move to a new space that's half its current size.

Copperfield's Books will move in October from its prominent location on the corner of Montgomery Drive and Farmers Lane to a smaller space off Hahman Drive in Montgomery Village near the Ross store. Its departure will make room for a new building envisioned to house a restaurant.

"I met my wife here, and all three of my kids have worked here," said store manager Thomas Graham. "I'll miss it terribly."

The change reflects the challenges bookstores are facing as a result of the economic downturn and a shift on the part of readers to online or electronic devices.

A confluence of issues led to the decision to move, said Paul Jaffe, co-owner of Copperfield's Books. The store's lease ended, and the owner could earn higher rent from a new tenant than what the bookstore could afford, Jaffe said. And the building has issues like termites and leaks and needs to be torn down, Graham said.

"With the changes in the book business for the last few years, we really felt we didn't need the space we currently have," Jaffe said. "We still intend to have as many events at Montgomery Village as we've ever had, we'll make sure of that."

Its neighbor, Cold Stone Creamery, also will move to a new location within Montgomery Village. The building will be torn down to make way for a restaurant, but the redwood beams will be retained, said David Codding, owner of Montgomery Village.

The new restaurant will have two or three levels, a glass elevator and an outdoor patio, and will open in about a year, Codding said.

"We're working with several prospective tenants right now," Codding said. "What I want is to create a real anchor there, a draw on that north end."

Copperfield's plans to reopen its cafe at the new location, and Graham will continue to stock the types of books that irk many of his politically charged customers. But a smaller space means less shelves, and to determine where to trim inventory Graham said he will assess book sales over the previous year.

"Poetry doesn't sell very well, but I have three shelves of it," Graham said.

The smaller size will make the store more profitable, and its location will lead to more foot traffic, Graham said.

Shoppers at the store on Tuesday said they hoped the store would retain its extensive children's book section, which recommends reads for every developmental stage.

"I moved to Santa Rosa when I was 3, and I've been coming here since then," said Ellie Vick, 19, of Santa Rosa, who brought her niece Tegan Jesson, 7, to the store. "They always had what I needed."

The staff recommends excellent books for children, said Kyle Fisher, 50, an attorney and father who lives in Kenwood.

"I just don't think you get that kind of care for young readers at bigger bookstores," Fisher said. "I think the rents are becoming more and more unaffordable for locally owned businesses."

Mary Hallock, 87, an author, said Copperfield's was very good to her when her mystery novel was published.

"I love this store, and have come here as long as they existed," Hallock said. "I will follow them wherever they go, providing there is parking."