THE last independent bookshop in Bolton town centre has become the latest casualty of tough economic conditions — and will close today.

Sweetens, in Deansgate, will shut its doors after more than 30 years, suffering from a combination of falling sales and rising costs.

The growing trend for electronic books that can be downloaded from the internet also hastened the shop’s demise. Stella Morris, who bought the shop 10 years ago, said she has mixed emotions about the closure of the store and criticised the lack of support for independent stores. I feel sad because we have been so much more than just a place where people buy books,” she said.

“I do also feel let down by the Town Centre Partnership, and by Bolton Council — they never come out and talk to the people in the shops and ask what’s going wrong.”

Sweetens became a member of Bolton Town Centre Partnership last year to try to help boost business, but other than a stall at the Bolton Food and Drink Festival, Mrs Morris says she has seen no benefits.

And she said she would like to see the council give more support to small businesses.

“A lot of the plans and ideas for regenerating the town have never come to fruition — even before the recession,”

she said.

Despite her criticisms, she says that additional factors have led to the closure of the store, such as the rise of online book sales and electronic book devices such as the Kindle “You can’t just blame Bolton — in the book business it is more than that,” she said. “Amazon, Kindle, the supermarkets, they all play their part.

“I think it’s just a case of it being a bit of an outdated model. Digital books have taken a lot of booksellers by surprise.”

Sweetens has only three staff members — Mrs Morris, Debe Conway and Carol Vernon.

Mrs Morris, who lives in Worsley with her husband, Al, is now planning to build up the internet business.

Regular customer Bill Crittenden said: “People in Bolton like big supermarkets where they can buy everything cheaper, but you need little shops and the customer service they provide.”

A council spokesman said: “It’s a difficult time for retailers nationally at the moment and the Central Bolton Partnership is working hard to support member businesses individually and by promoting the town centre as a key destination for business, shopping and leisure.”

The news came a day after TJ Hughes announced it was shutting its Bolton store with the loss of 49 jobs.

Less than a fortnight ago, Nelsons shoes, in Bridge Street, and Wildings camera store, in Deansgate, went into administration.