The place that used to be Barnes and Noble in Georgetown is now Nike. How ironic, since Barnes and Noble, in combination with now defunct Borders Books, killed off most of Washington DC’s independent bookstores.
There is one bookstore left in Georgetown, Bridge Street Books which is independently owned. Rumor has it that the owner has a trust fund.
There are no bookstores in downtown Washington. Borders used to be on 14th and F Street, while Barnes Noble was on 12th street. More irony, since they drove my favorite bookstores, Olssons and Chapters, out of business. Both stores were staffed by readers, not cashiers.
Their shelves were well edited, which encouraged serendipitous discoveries. Olssons was better for non-fiction, especially if you were looking for history, biography, and politics. Chapters was the go-to store for literary fiction and poetry.
Bookstores are sociable places. The years when I worked downtown, readings at Chapters (followed by wine and cheese) formed a major part of my social life. Free entertainment although I’d usually buy the book and would stand in line for the autograph. I got to meet some of my writing heroes (James Salter, Grace Paley and Laurie Colwin come to mind) and tell them thank you.
Two independent bookstores remain, Kramerbooks and Politics& Prose. Some cities have none.
Cyberspace may be infinite but it is airless.