I heard about this yesterday via an article on Slate. Cody's shutting down makes me sad, not because it typefies the demise of the independent bookseller (Berkeley's coddling of independent merchants is something that I've always had mixed feelings about), but because I spent a lot of time at Cody's during my eight-minus-one years in Berkeley and I have a lot of warm fuzzy memories associated with the place.
I won't try to catalogue, or even put together a representative sample, of my Cody's experiences. Suffice it to say that on the many, many nights when I would wander aimlessly around Berkeley in search of adventure, I would inevitably end up at Cody's, perusing the impressive and bizarre collection of alternative magazines, looking through the table of the latest socially responsible nonfiction titles, and browsing through the heavily over-categorized shelves. Cody's had a great bookstore atmosphere, with its hip patrons observing reverent library silence as they read books without buying them. The staff, as with most independent booksellers, knew a lot about books. I wouldn't have to spell "Neuromancer" four times if I were asking a Cody's staffmember where to find it (as I once had to do at Barnes & Noble). I introduced Meli to Cody's rather early in our relationship, so a lot of my positive associations with the doomed bookstore involve her as well.
Without being too dramatic, I'd like to claim that one of my life's major defining moments happened inside Cody's: I was in Cody's when I decided to apply to law school. It was my last semester in college, and I had been tossing the law school idea around for for a while without taking it too seriously, when one night (during one of my aforementioned aimless wanders), I went into Cody's, picked up an LSAT book, and did a few of the problems in my head. The fact that I got most of them right transformed the notion of law school from simply a decent idea into something I could actually do. It was at that point that I really got serious about pursuing the Dark Arts, and now here I am, blogging when I should be lawyering. Could this moment have happened at Border's or Barnes & Noble? Of course. But it happened at Cody's, and that's how I remember it.
It'll be sad to visit Berkeley and not go to Cody's. Its prominent location at the corner of Haste and Telegraph will make its absence conspicuous, regardless of what replaces it (whether it's a chain bookstore, some other commercial venture, or -- God willing -- student housing). But I'm glad that it was around long enough to be part of my life in Berkeley.