Crown Books, a subsidiary of Dart Drug, is negotiating to buy the five local Marboro book stores.

The company that owns Marboro closed its 12 book stores in New York and said it plans to sell them to Barnes & Noble another book chain, and go out of business.

Officials of Marboro, Crown and Barnes & Noble could not be reached for comment yesterday on the status of the Washington Marboro units.

An employe of the local Marboro stores, who asked not to be identified, said the Washington units were not sold to Barnes & Noble and will remain open for the time being.

The Marboro employe confirmed reports that owners of the stores have held talks with Crown, but he said no agreement has been reached.

The local Marboro stores are at 18th and M Streets, NW downtown, 31st and M Streets, NW in Georgetown, King Street in Old Town Alexandria, Main Street in Annapolis, and National Airport.

The Marboro chain, with its extensive mail order operation, was the nation's largest seller of "remindered" books -- leftovers sold at big discounts.

The two-year-old Crown Books is a division of Dart Drug headed by Robert Haft, the son of Dart founder Herbert Haft. Offering best-sellers at discount prices, Crown is believed to be the largest book seller in the Washington area.