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Beloved Guerneville bookstore shutters

  • Susan Ryan moves a box at her River Reader bookstore, in Guerneville, on her last day of business on Thursday, November 1, 2012. Ryan is closing the store after five years. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

The River Reader, a bookstore that has been an integral part of the literary fabric of Guerneville for 17 years, shuttered its doors Thursday for the last time.

"This last year, I sold half as many books as I needed to break even, and it has been that way for the last few years," said Susan Ryan, who bought the store five years ago.

Ryan, a Santa Rosa resident, stood for the last time at the counter Thursday, maybe out of habit, behind a bouquet of yellow carnations and three bottles of wine left over from a wake she and supporters held for the store last week.

Bookcases have been dismantled and were leaning against the walls, the few remaining books were boxed or waiting for customers to pick them up, and a redwood tree made of red, brown and green construction paper stood in what had been the children's reading section.

"I think it is the economy, this community is struggling, and people buying books online," Ryan said.

Ryan bought the store five years ago from Francis Werner, who started it 12 years earlier.

The closure leaves Twice Told Books, which deals primarily in used books but also sells some new books, as Guerneville's only bookstore.

It also leaves a hole in Guerneville's literary calendar.

Ryan hosted book-signing sessions for local authors, whose books she featured. Last year there were 30 such events.

"It is hard for local authors to get into bookstores," Ryan said.


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