When this city's B. Dalton closes, no bookstore within 150 miles

When mall storefront B. Dalton shutters 49 stores next year, the city of Laredo, Texas will be closing the book entirely. Industry associations and book experts say it will be the largest American city without a single bookstore.

The store wouldn't close, of course, if more Texans had shopped there. For whatever cultural reason, though -- feel free to interject your own theory -- the people in Laredo, a border town of 230,000 citizens, don't read enough to support a single shop. Soon, they'll have to drive 150 miles, or nearly three hours, to San Antonio if they want to stock their shelves.

The Associated Press caught up with one customer as she left with a sack full of nine romance novels. "It's going to be a total bummer," she said. "It made me wish I had shopped there more."