A Finchley bookshop that has grown to become an institution' with Finchley residents past and present is closing its doors to customers after 38 years in business.

The Finchley Bookshop, a family run business, opened in 1968 in Hendon Lane, but moved to Ballards Lane, Finchley, where it established itself at the heart of what was then a rather bookish community.

Michael Hart, 55, took over running the shop from his parents Hilda and Norman who, when they first moved to Ballards Lane, found queues stretching down the street in anticipation of its first day. But with competition from supermarkets and the internet, there is no longer demand for the bookshop.

Mr Hart said: "In recent years its not done well. Competition everywhere has made things difficult and I can't keep things going anymore. We're making a loss. I'll be closing in the next week.

"So many shops have closed down in Ballards Lane. When I first took over there used to be delicatessens, bakers and butchers - you could do all your shopping here.

"Once the post office closed, that really started to kill things. Now there's competition from Brent Cross shopping centre, from North Finchley, and a little from Tesco and online sales, but the book trade generally has been in decline."

Although he will continue to run a small academic book store outside of the borough, Mr Hart said he was very upset to be closing the shop.

"I'm devastated about it," he said. "It's a very nice way to make a living - you get to read and talk about books to customers. I really feel like part of the community, I grew up here."

Johanna Maddock, assistant manager at the shop, said: "Now there's not so much call for it. The book trade is suffering everywhere and is down by 45 per cent. They the owners are going to be in a lot of debt when it closes."

As well as a staple diet of regular readers, the shop has been visited by author Nick Hornby, poet Brain Pattern and Rabbi Lionel Blume.

A spokesman from the Finchley Society, said: "We are worried about the incursion against our communities that supermarkets have. Our villages and towns centres are losing their flavour and not everyone has cars to get to supermarkets and they will suffer if this goes on."

Mr Hart will be selling the books at discounted prices from this week in a hope to raise some funds to pay off mounting debts the shop has accumulated.