Lyon Books’ final chapter

Downtown shop to close its doors after a dozen years in business

When Heather Lyon opened Lyon Books in 2003 with her husband, Aaron, her daughters were in elementary school. Today, they are 18 and 21, young adults who grew up with the bookstore as a cornerstone of their childhood.

Unfortunately, as the girls aged, the publishing industry evolved as well, transforming to the point where sustaining a brick-and-mortar bookstore simply became impossible for the Lyons.

“It became painfully obvious that it was not working,” Lyon said. “I’m afraid between the economy and Amazon, we just can’t continue.”

Beginning today (Thursday, April 16), the family-owned bookstore—one of Chico’s most beloved businesses—begins its final days of operation. Although Lyon had hoped to sell the business and keep it afloat in Chico, there was no viable option other than to shut the doors of the downtown shop.

Last week, after 12 years in business, Lyon announced the news via Facebook, and she closed up shop to prepare for a liquidation sale. Earlier this week, the storefront’s windows at 135 Main St. were covered with brightly colored poster board, with a note signaling the bookstore’s final closure.

The store will remain open for at least a few weeks, to sell the books and merchandise that remain in stock. It will continue to honor outstanding gift certificates and credits until its official closure, which is undetermined at this point.

For Lyon, the loss of the business is akin to losing a family member. She said it is a time of grief for the family, the store’s seven employees and the community members who have been faithful customers for more than a decade.

Lyon noted that Lyon Books—first at its location near the downtown Chico Post Office and then at its current space next door to Peet’s Coffee & Tea—has been a haven for local readers and writers over the years. The store represents 386 local authors in their literary lineup and has hosted more than 400 weekly book-signings and -readings with writers since 2003. Additionally, the Chico Authors and Publishers Society has regularly met at Lyon Books. With the bookstore’s impending departure, the meetings will be moved to the Chico branch of the Butte County Library.

Though Heather and Aaron Lyon are closing the last chapter for Lyon Books, Chico will remain their home. Aaron runs his own graphic design and multimedia business and will maintain that work, and Heather is making plans for a new career.

As the family prepares to bid a final farewell to Lyon Books, Heather said despite the heartache she feels over closing the business, she remains steadfast in her gratitude for the experience and her love of the local literary community.

“This business has been so incredibly wonderful,” she said. “The people who read books are the best people and the people who write books are even better.”