Help Laredo Woo a Bookstore

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It’s heartbreaking. Laredo has put together a consortium of folks and organizations under its new “Laredo Reads” banner to try and convince a book chain to open up shop in Laredo.As I blogged in an earlier post – the fair border city will lose its last bookstore on January 17th. The mega bookseller Barnes & Noble is closing the B. Dalton at the Mall del Norte in an effort to get rid of the smaller book chain altogether. Despite the general lackluster financial performance of the B. Dalton chain, the story in Laredo was profitable, according to Xochitl Mora, public information officer for the City of Laredo.It’s a big loss not only for Laredoans but also for northern Mexicans. My husband who grew up in Monterrey has fond memories of shopping for books at the B. Dalton when he did his U.S. mall shopping.Xochitl has forwarded a Web link where folks can sign an online petition to support a new bookstore opening in Laredo. Interesting times folks when a city has to petition for a business to come and make money!The City of Laredo knows it won’t be easy in a tough economic climate. Here’s an excerpt from the press release announcing the creation of  Laredo Reads:”Finally, Laredo Reads committee members also understand that they are in this for the long haul.  Because of the economy, and the processes of fiscal budgets for all major corporations, it will be a minimum of 18 to 24 months before anything might happen.  But this won’t deter this committee – nor this community – from painting a vastly different picture to these companies than the one they are getting now.  In the end, it will take perseverance and hard work for everyone involved to show to the country that Laredo does, in fact, read. “The academic success of every child begins with a love of reading books,” says Dr. Marcus Nelson, superintendent for Laredo I.S.D.  “When a child enjoys picking up a book, everything else will fall into place.  Reading books is essential to doing well in school and becoming a productive member of society,” he concluded.With an entire community coming together to make sure there are plenty of books for future generations of children – and adults – Laredo Reads is hopeful that their happily ever fairy tale after will be written very soon.”Sniff.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Melissa is a 2014-15 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.