Bike Lanes = Bookstores

Image 5-1

It’s sad to hear the news that Dead Tree Books is having trouble paying it’s rent. (Image 5-1) I love buying books and visiting bookstores especially an independent one. When I’m stuck in a different city, I head towards the bookstore on my bicycle, and sometimes I find a gem that I buy to take home.

I heard on Thursday, August 1st that Dead Tree Books on the Southside, specifically at the corner of S Flores and Southcross is having a hard time to be there. I can’t say that I’m not surprised by the news for as long as I can remember, before the days of the internet, bookstores are rarely ever present on the Southside.

Now I visited this particular bookstore only once and that’s because I was on my way home from Harbor Freight after buying some batteries waiting to catch the 515. That was about a year before I became a truck driver and I haven’t been back. It’s not because that I don’t want to go back, it’s litterly the last place that I head towards on my bicycle because of the dangerous drivers on S Flores. For me, when I do go to a bookstore nowadays, it’s usaully on a whim and while I’m out riding my bicycle around. When I do ride my bicycle around, I choose the safest route and on the Southside, that’s the Mission Reach.

There’s a reason why nearly all of the bookstores in San Antonio are located on the Northside of town and not the Southside and it ain’t the myth that people on the southside don’t read books or don’t know english. The main reason is really simple, people on that side of town don’t have the disposable income to buy books. Plus with Amazon today, it’s harder to keep a bookstore open now more than ever.

In a TedTalk video, Jeff Specks explains why there are more bookstores in Portland, Oregon per person than any other city in America. It because there’s plenty of transit to use, plenty of bicycle lanes to ride in and plenty of sidewalks to walk down. You see when you don’t have to spend all your money on a car, you end up spending that money on books, craft beer and bicycles instead of gasoline, brake jobs, and expensive diabetic perscriptions. To prove my point, below are two screenshots of a google map search for bookstores highlighting all the bike lanes in green. One is in Austin, (Image 5-3) just up the road from San Antonio. Compare that same search for bookstores in San Antonio, (Image 5-2) and it’s obvious why there’s barely any bookstores let alone any independent bookstores on the Southside let alone all over San Antonio. We don’t want to invest in the bike lanes in fear that people won’t be able to drive to those businesses. In reality, the majority of San Antonions don’t have the money to visit those businesses in the first place. It’s the reason why vurtually all the bookstores, both corporate and the few independent are located on the North and Northwest sides of town and outside Loop 410. It is traditionly where the people with money end up living.


Some good news, (Image 5-4) Dead Tree Books has just earned enough money from the community to stay open, but it doesn’t look good in the long run. When the majority of people spend all their hard earn money on keeping their cars running and the health cost on keeping well, they won’t be spending it on other stuff, it’s just that simple. Only when our city starts to invest in the infrastructure that saves money will we see more of these bookstores.


5-1: Screenshot of the Tweet from Dead Tree Books telling the world about their problem.
5-2: Screenshot of Google Maps showing all the bookstores in San Antonio including Dead Tree Books with the available bicycle lanes/paths highlighted in Green.
5-3: Screenshot of Google Maps Showing all the Bookstores in Austin with the available bicycle lanes/paths highlighted in Green.
5-4: Screenshot of the Tweet from Dead Tree Books telling the world how they barely made it this month.


Bad News Tweet:

Good News Tweet:

Jeff Specks, the Walkable City Ted Talk:

Jeff Specks Webpage:

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