In a sign of the times, the GPO is closing the venerable bookstore at its headquarters, saying a review “determined that the bookstore is no longer financially viable due to changes in customer behavior which have resulted in sustained losses over the last five years.”
The store just north of the Capitol Building opened in the 1920s and served for decades as Washington’s main access point for documents ranging from reports of obscure study commissions to the annual White House budget proposal. It was the setting for annual news photos of the budget being released, even in recent years as the budget also is released online.
Before online distribution of the budget began, lines stretched down the street well in advance on the morning of the release. Similarly, before the Congressional Record and Federal Register became available online each morning, the store often was a first stop of the day by federal officials and congressional staffers for those publications.
Using language similar to that used in private sector bookstore closings of recent times, the GPO said that as more free information has been posted and for-sale information can be purchased online, “the business case for maintaining a separate physical bookstore evaporated.”
The bookstore had not been open to the public since March due to the pandemic, GPO noted, and all its three employees accepted incentives to retire.