By Paul Bisceglio
St. Mark’s Bookshop seeks a new home. Established in 1977, the bookshop is a literary fixture in the East Village that has attracted cultural luminaries like William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Glass and Susan Sontag. According to Crain’s, however, the store hopes to find a more affordable location when its rent increases toward the end of the year.
“We’d like to stay in the East Village,” co-owner Bob Contant told the business
news website. “We understand the print book business has declined, but we’re still doing enough business to keep going, if we had a smaller space with less rent.”
Contant would not speak with New York Press about the prospective move, and asked us to check in later. As of now, details about exactly when and where the bookshop would relocate are unclear — even the store’s two salespeople admitted they had no idea what was going on with it.
St. Mark’s Bookshop is no stranger to the financial woes of the print book business. Last fall, the store won great publicity and support when its owners announced they would be forced close unless their landlord, the tuition-free college Cooper Union, cut their rent. Though the college initially refused due to its own financial strain, public outcry that culminated in a 40,000-signature petition to save the bookshop and a meeting with Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer encouraged the college and the bookshop to reach a compromise.
“When an independent bookstore goes out of business, a part of us goes with it,” Stringer told the New York Times after the incident.
St. Mark’s deal with Cooper Union was only for one year, though, and a new lease period is now on its way. In April, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York organized a cash mob to buoy the floundering business. Now, the bookshop’s owners are gathering votes to qualify for a $250,000 small business grant from Chase and Living Social, which Crain’s says would fund their relocation.
Cooper Square Committee has circulated an e-mail to recruit votes for the grant, but could not confirm the money would fund a move. They said our conversation was the first they heard of the possible relocation.
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