BOOK lovers have been stunned by the news that a landmark Dunstable store is to close.
The Book Castle, in Church Street, will shut its doors for the last time later this month.
Saturday, March 26 will be the final day of trading for the book shop, which was set up in 1980 by Paul Bowes.
Paul sold the shop in 2008, to the Independent Retail Group.
But he still owns Book Castle Publishing, a separate company which is still trading.
School supplies manager Alison Marchant, who has worked at the store since its launch, said: “We are devastated and the customers are, as well.
“Everyone who has come in has been very upset. They all say they don’t know what they are going to do and that it is very sad for the town.”
She added: “We knew that takings were down. We knew that Christmas had been bad, especially with the bad weather – that didn’t help.”
Now the team of six full-time and part-time staff, including a delivery driver and a Saturday assistant, must find new posts.
Ironically, news of the closure decision was given to the team on Thursday, which was World Book Day.
Alison said: “We had hoped against hope that they would just be coming to give us some advice and tell us what we could do to improve sales. But I did think they might be coming to close us down, and that turned out to be what happened.”
She emphasised: “We would like to say thank you to all our loyal customers for their support over the years.
“We will be very sorry to say goodbye to them all.”
Paul Bowes, who moved away from the area in 2004, said: “I am obviously sad. A lot of book shops are closing because of the demand in supermarkets and online.
“People are therefore not visiting their high street shops. That is a general picture, it doesn’t just apply to book shops.
“It has been over 30 years since The Book Castle opened and I think the town is going to be the poorer for losing its specialist book shop.”