End of an era for Barnes & Noble in Naperville

By Jack McCarthy Chronicle Media

A line of customers snakes through the ground floor waiting to check out as Naperville’s Barnes & Noble bookstore recently began a closing sale. (Photo by Jack McCarthy/Chronicle Media)

A lengthy line of shoppers clutching piles of books snaked through the main floor of Naperville’s Barnes & Noble bookstore waiting to check out on the final Saturday of 2023.

Some of the dozens in line seemed pleased to score some bargain best sellers going for 50 percent off. Others perhaps had more wistful thoughts as the longtime Naperville landmark prepared to shut its doors for good later this month.

Staff at the two-story Barnes & Noble bookstore, a fixture at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Washington Street in the heart of downtown for 25 years, quickly started a clearance sale after the company recently announced it would close by Jan. 21.

The Naperville Sun reported that Barnes & Noble’s lease had expired and was not renewed.

“We must leave,” the company said in a statement on social media and posted throughout the store. “It has truly been our honor and privilege to be your bookseller in Naperville for the last 25 years. While we’re saddened to vacate our current home, we are so excited to stay nearby and in a beautiful new bookstore.”

Exterior of Naperville’s Barnes & Noble Bookstore, a downtown fixture for 25 years. (Photo by Jack McCarthy/Chronicle Media)

Barnes & Noble plans to open a new bookstore and cafe just 20 minutes west in the Prairie Market Shopping Center on U.S. Route 34 in Oswego. On Dec. 21, the village of Oswego announced the company would take over a 16,000-square-foot former DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse.

Renovation work is scheduled to begin in January and work permits are already posted in windows. A spring opening is projected.

“The new location offers us a huge opportunity to feature our highly lauded new store design,” the company stated.

While the Naperville store is departing, local book lovers will still have options.

Anderson’s Bookstore, an independent retailer with a longtime downtown presence, remains in business just two blocks away. Half-Price Books, meanwhile, has a store on Illinois Route 59.

B&N also operates bookstores in Bolingbrook, Joliet, Oak Brook and Geneva and online at bn.com.

There was no immediate indication of what might replace Barnes & Noble. But it appears unlikely that the space would be vacant for long, especially in a bustling downtown with 150 businesses and very few empty storefronts.

Downtown Naperville remains a popular spot for restaurants, retail stores and services and the affluent DuPage County city is consistently ranked among the most livable and desirable communities in the country.

Barnes & Noble is the nation’s largest bookseller, operating nearly 600 outlets with locations in all 50 states.