The demise of Cody's comes as less of a surprise given its recent sale and frenetic moving--off Telegraph, off Fourth, on to Shattuck, momentarily, and now shuttered altogether. It failed to last as long as De Lauer's but its impression on Bay Area readers was no less profound. It was a decidedly intellectual bookstore, which isn't to say that it was stuffy or snooty, but that it took seriously ideas, books, writers, and above all, readers. Over time Cody's occupied four different locations, but the Telegraph store was the most famous--it anchored one of America's great blocks of bookstores--and is perhaps best known for having been firebombed after displaying in its windows Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses."
What we're losing in the closing of these stores is not a good place to buy a book or newspaper--news and books have never been so accessible to so many, and we should celebrate the forces that have made it so.
What we're losing, instead, is an aesthetic and communal experience that enriched Oakland and Berkeley and those who inhabited and visited the cities, and I'm not sure what, if anything, replaces these spaces in the cityscape.
UPDATE: The news of De Lauer's death was greatly exaggerated. Actually, it wasn't exaggerated, but evidently the store has been temporarily resuscitated by people in the community. The article also notes that De Lauer's may be the only 24-hour newsstand in the country.