Well-known R.I. nautical bookstore will close in April

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After 32 years of serving the book and charting needs of the boating community in Newport, R.I., and around the world, Armchair Sailor Bookstore announced it will be closing its doors at the end of April.

“Times have changed and the past few years been very difficult for independent specialty bookstore retailers,” said John Mann, owner of Armchair Sailor, a subsidiary of Bluewater Books and Charts in Fort Lauderdale, in a statement. “Customers today often opt for the convenience of online purchasing for their reading materials and the explosion of e-book readers has dramatically affected hard-copy book sales.

“Couple those purchasing changes with technological advances that enable consumers to access inexpensive or free electronic versions of nautical charts and cruising guides that continue to erode the retail bookstore’s market share,” he added.

Armchair Sailor will have a going-away event to thank its loyal customers for their years of support, in addition to a month-long “spring sale” in April.

“The closing of the physical store in Newport will not affect our New England customers’ ability to purchase nautical books and charts. In response to the changing business environment, we’ve restructured our organization and will have a seasoned professional available to serve our local customers,” Mann added.

“Others will benefit from a new website that will be launching in the spring, as well as have access to the company’s flagship store in Fort Lauderdale via the Internet or toll-free telephone number that has a considerably larger offering of products and dedicated sales staff to assist boaters,” he said.


6 comments on “Well-known R.I. nautical bookstore will close in April

  1. Chad

    How sad – yet another Newport favorite bites the dust.  Years ago, the chandlery down the street from the bookstore was every visiting sailor’s rainy day escape, perusing aisles and shelves of unique marine equipment.  Later it displayed more T-shirts than tangs, and eventually closed shop.
    More recently, the Armchair Sailor has replaced the chandlery as my rainy day pastime.  I firsted discovered them at a boat show – Sail Expo in Atlantic City as I recall.  Their booth at the show was itself a browsing bookstore, and I was hooked.  In my last visit to the store, I ran into Don Street himself.  I guess that’s a good way to leave it.

  2. Carol Ann Getter

    Alas!  Sure, there are on-line charts and books to pull up electronically, but there is something about actually traveling down to your store and taking in all the little beautiful little asides that decorate your store to make it an adventure worthy of the ride!  Truly, your establishment has been a delight, and I’m very, very sorry to hear of its end.  Fair winds, and gentle seas, Good Sailors!

  3. S. Schultz

    As the owner of a small chandlery in Ontario, I agree that it is difficult to accept the loss of specialized businesses, but as the world speeds up, so does the need for leisure and the deisre not to waste time waiting fot it.
    As a small business owner I appreciate and enjoy the customer who loves to come in and browse. But my overhead keeps increasing and with smaller sales (no pun intended) it’s getting more and more difficult to get from one season to the next.
    And look at us – we’re reading and responding to this magazine on-line!

  4. Mark Tague

    I backed into the Marine Industry in 1979 when I was hired to create a rare and out-of-print(and used) nautical book department for the original Lee’s Wharf store.  At the time I knew nothing at all of the field, just loved old books in general.  Nearly 32 years later, I am still working in the industry.  When I heard the news of the closing, a great sadness overcame me.  Goodbye George.

  5. CruisingKitty

    How sad. It’s where I bought so many of my private collection of sailing books, including a copy of Jimmy Cornell’s Cruising Routes that got me across the Atlantic three times in three years.  It was browsing through those books in the shop that fueled my dreams of going off sailing. It’s really hard to browse effectively online. Just not as real as holding that dream book in your hands and cuddling up with it by the fire later at home.

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