OGDEN -- For the last and final time, The Bookshelf, a used-book store that has gone through three sets of owners in its 40-plus years, is shutting down.
It closed once before, but this closing looks final: The books are going, the comics are going, the shelves are going. Even the name is going, bought so it can't be used again.
Blame the economy, blame e-books, blame changes in reading tastes. The doors are slated to shut for the last time Saturday at 7 p.m. Books, CDs and DVDs are going at 90 percent off the marked price this week. All the fixtures are for sale.
After that, any leftover stock will be sold in bulk or given away to make room for a new game store taking over the space.
Kirk Dougherty, one of The Bookshelf's owners, said it's simple mathematics. The business always had too much money going out, not enough coming in. "We never made enough money to crawl out of our debts. I don't know if my partners would agree with that, but that's what I think."
The Bookshelf became an institution in downtown Ogden, located on Washington Boulevard between 24th and 25th streets. It was there for decades, but that wasn't its original home.
Dougherty said it was originally founded about 41 years ago by someone he thought was named Kaufman, who ran it for 10 years. Pat Ortega, the subsequent owner, ran the business in two different locations for 27 years until he retired four years ago and sold the building.
Ortega's decision left some longtime employees wondering what they would do for jobs, so he sold them the business name and much of his old stock.
They set up shop at the current address, 2671 Washington Blvd., selling a mix of comic books, used books, games, movies and CDs, but Dougherty said it was a struggle from the get-go.
The store had three main owners who were employees at the former Bookshelf, as well as two others who weren't full partners, he said.
With so many owners, nobody made a good living. One of the principal owners got an outside job, another quit for medical reasons, "and I was working more hours than minimum wage, but you do what you can to try to keep something running," Dougherty said. "We just couldn't."
There was gloom to spare one afternoon this week. Jeanie Ortiz, Ogden, came to the counter with a stack of DVDs that were going for 50 cents each and said her business, too, was closing.
She runs Choo-Choo's, which is located in an old railroad car at the FrontRunner station. When power was shut down for three days during the November windstorm, "We lost everything," and can't come back.
She also had a death in the family this year, so economy isn't the only reason she's closing, but "If someone just wants to walk in and take it over, I'd be happy to let them. I'm not trying to make any money."
She said her final day is Jan. 13, then paid $5.33 for her stack of movies ("cheaper than Red Box") and went out.
Dougherty said the building isn't going to be empty. The Bookshelf already shares the space with Gamer's Asylum, which will be joined by Game Vault and a third business that sells vinyl records.
"The upside is there's going to be life here," he said.
Mike Parsons, who owns Gamer's Asylum, said he bought The Bookshelf name along with many of the fixtures and the comic book business. He won't use the name, he just doesn't want another business opening nearby using it because people might be confused and not go to his store.
Dougherty said he hopes the store can make enough in its final days to pay off all the debts and leave clean.
"We will definitely have our creditors paid off, which I feel good about. Too often in America, places just close and don't pay their debts," but he said that just makes things worse for the creditors and spreads the pain.
His own plans are "to get a job," he said, but he doesn't know what.
"I'll never work in books again. I think books will go away," probably within the next decade. He predicts that with the sale of electronic books rising, there soon won't be used books for used book stores to sell.
The sale is giving fans of books a chance to stock up.
Leah Wadman hunched down in front of a bookcase full of old children's books. "I'm an artist and I use the illustrations," she said as she pondered the 1950s-style drawings in a Miss Manners book.
But it's not just the pictures, she said. "I like books, I like paper, I like the tactile thing, and reading on a screen just doesn't do it for me."