In 1996, Books-A-Million moved into the former Walmart building in Towne Square North, giving Owensboro its second book store.

Waldenbooks was in Towne Square Mall then and had been since the mall opened in 1978.

But Waldenbooks closed in January 2004, leaving Books-A-Million the only chain bookstore in town.

Now, sometime around Jan. 18, Books-A-Million will close its doors, leaving Owensboro without a chain selling new books and periodicals.

There are several used-book stores, including 2nd & Charles in Gateway Commons.

That chain is owned by Books-A-Million.

James Rearden, manager of the local Books-A-Million, said he hasn't been told the exact day the store will close.

But everything has to be shipped back to the company by Jan. 31, he said.

The news, Rearden said, "is devastating. I've been coming to this store since I was a teenager."

The Joe Muggs coffee shop at the store is popular, he said.

"We have people who come in every day to drink coffee and read the paper," Rearden said.

Bookstore chains have struggled in the 21st century, competing with both e-books and online bookstores like Amazon.

Some estimates say that Amazon now sells half or more of all books sold in the country.

Some online sites estimate that more than 1,000 brick-and-mortar bookstores closed between 2000 and 2007.

And even more than that have closed in the 12 years since.

Statistica.com says bookstores sold $10.28 billion worth of books in 2018 -- down from a high of $17.17 billion in 2007.

Books-A-Million's website says that it has 260 stores in 32 states today.

It's now the nation's second-largest bookstore chain.

It moved up from fourth-place in 1996 when the local store opened.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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