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Bookshop Meets Fundraising Goal, Not Out of Woods Yet

Bookshop ownersJamie Larson Bookshop owners Terrence McCoy and Bob

The constantly-embattled St. Mark’s Bookshop surpassed its goal of $23,000 today, though that doesn’t mean the beloved store’s survival is certain.

“This first big chunk at least guarantees that we will keep fighting because you have shown everyone that there is a reason to,” the owners wrote in a thank you note posted online.

Currently, the store has raised over $24,000 and still has three days of fundraising left.

But in a phone conversation co-owner Terrence McCoy said many hurdles remained. For one, the store’s shelves are disconcertingly empty due to the fact that some publishers have stopped shipping new books due to unpaid bills. The owners are seeking investors who could fund the new storefront, but thus far, any potential backers have favored the existing location, Mr. McCoy said.

“I can’t say that we’re going to instantly move,” he added. Read more…

Leigh Stein ‘Can’t Go to the East Village Anymore,’ But Reads Here Tonight

Screen shot 2012-07-25 at 4.48.44 PMCourtesy Leigh Stein

At 7:30 tonight, Leigh Stein, a novelist and former editorial staffer at the New Yorker, will read from her new book of poetry, “Dispatch from the Future,” at Bar on A. We spoke to the Brooklynite about bad dates in the East Village and an awkward shopping trip to the St. Mark’s Bookshop.


The trailer for your new poetry collection begins, “I can’t go to the East Village anymore…” How do you feel about coming back to the neighborhood for your book reading?


I love the neighborhood but I avoided it for years because it brought back weird, painful memories. Now I’ve grown up a bit, and can enjoy life again. Bar on A is actually one of my favorite bars in the area. I had a “Where the Wild Things Are”-themed birthday party there a few years ago. I wore a faux fur stole. Read more…

Bookshop Pleads Again for Customers

IMG_0008Khristopher J. Brooks

The owners of the perennially embattled St. Mark’s Bookshop posted another plea yesterday for its supporters to put their money where their mouth is and buy some books.

“We know you value St. Mark’s Bookshop. We’re counting on you to help keep us here,” the owners wrote. “We need an increase in business in order to rebuild our inventory to the level most people have come to expect.” Read more…

St. Mark’s Bookshop Hasn’t Turned Page


After catching a rent break in November, the St. Mark’s Bookshop isn’t quite in the clear. “We’re hanging in there, barely,” co-owner Bob Contant tells Publisher’s Weekly in an item noticed by Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York. “It’s a difficult April. Traffic is down. Without an increase, we can’t rebuild our inventory. We’re 20 percent short of where we need to be.” According to Publisher’s Weekly, “a few landlords have come forward offering the store lower rent, but moving would be costly and the store’s business credit cards are already maxed out.” Hey, The Local did its part last night by springing for copies of Clayton Patterson’s neighborhood histories, “Captured” and “Resistance.”

Alan Abramson’s Fan-O-Gram to the East Village Other


Because something is happening here
And you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?
– “Ballad of a Thin Man” by Bob Dylan (from “Highway 61 Revisited,” 1965)

Alan Abramson - 1972 copy Alan Abramson, 1972.

The times were overwhelming. America was violently awakened from the slumber of the 1950s on Nov. 22, 1963 and quickly found itself inhabiting an unrecognizable, incomprehensible, rapidly evolving reality. The Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, the Free Love Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Gender Equality Movement, the Consciousness Raising Movement, the Save Our Planet Movement, the Eastern Mysticism Movement, and sex, drugs and rock and roll all conspired to create a giddy, euphoric Renaissance. If you were a nice young person raised in Eisenhower-era suburbia, the questions that consumed you were: “What the hell is going on? What does this all mean? Where do I fit in?” And most importantly: “How do I get invited to the party?”

Enter, The East Village Other. For me it was the Rosetta Stone that enabled me to decode the meaning of the ‘60s.  Attending Oberlin College from 1964 to 1968, I experienced an environment that was receptive to the Strange Days that were sweeping the nation. I had a subscription to the Village Voice, which retained an aura of cool, post-Beat sensibility.

All of the sudden, however, it was left way, far behind: things were happening much too quickly for it to process. The ‘60s were not about quiet, low key cool. The ‘60s were flaming hot. There was a void in the media. Nature abhors a vacuum and something Other was desperately needed (I always felt that the name was a play on words, dissing its neighbor from the West Village). Like Athena springing fully clad in armor from the aching head of Zeus, The East Village Other burst upon the scene. The Other was not your parents’ newspaper. Read more…

Viewfinder | Down the Aisles of the St. Mark’s Bookshop

Last night, politicians and neighbors gathered at the St. Mark’s Bookshop to celebrate the lowering of its rent. So the bookstore survives, but for how long? Will it still be on the corner of Ninth Street and Third Avenue in a couple of years? Or will there be a giant bubble tea shop there instead? It seems like a good time to document an institution of a kind that’s vanishing from the East Village.

St. Mark's Pipes

As a physical space, St. Mark’s Bookshop is sort of retro-futuristic, and more theatrical than relaxing. There is a big-city sense of being on stage. No attempt is made to foster the kind of somnolent, wood-paneled cubbyhole atmosphere so beloved of the stereotypical independent book store. Anyway, it would be a difficult trick to pull off, what with those HVAC pipes slithering around above the customers’ heads like giant, interstellar worms. Read more…

St. Mark’s Bookshop Back From the Brink

Bookshop presserJamie Larson Owner of St. Mark’s Bookshop Terrence McCoy, along with Borough President Scott Stringer, Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha and others.

Cooper Union has eased the St. Mark’s Bookshop financial burden — somewhat.

A day after students from the school protested the possibility that they would have to pay tuition for the first time in more than a century (we’ve now added video of that demonstration to our initial post), politicians, community activists, school officials and the bookshop’s owners officially brought the two-month rent dispute to an end at a press conference this morning.

Under the agreement for the next year, Cooper Union will, as reported by The Times last night, cut the bookshop’s rent by $2,500 from its current rate, $20,000 a month.

Cooper Union will also forgive $7,500 of the shop’s debt and send a team of students to work with the owners on creating a new business plan. The agreement, which only last week seemed dead in the water, should save the store $40,000 over the next year, according to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who took credit for bringing an end to the standoff.
Read more…

Cooper Union Wavers On Rent Reduction For St. Mark’s Bookshop

Bookshop ownersJamie Larson St. Mark’s Bookshop owners Terrence McCoy and Bob Contant say Cooper Union will not reduce their rent. The university, however, says no decision has been made.

The St. Mark’s Bookshop’s fate may still hang in the balance — at least according to Cooper Union. Though the beloved bookstore’s owners have abandoned hope of getting a $5,000 rent reduction, a Cooper Union spokeswoman insisted today that no official decision has been made.

After a meeting yesterday with top administrators from the school, bookshop co-owner Terrence McCoy was left with the clear impression that a reduction of the $20,000-a month rent was not in the cards.

“They said they couldn’t do anything — that all they could do was defer one month’s rent,” Mr. McCoy said. “I don’t want to have more debt.” Read more…

With Decision Imminent, St. Mark’s Bookshop Petition Will Be Delivered to Cooper Union (Updated)

IMG_0018Khristopher J. Brooks

Don’t be too quick to believe Internet chatter about the possibility that Cooper Union might decide the fate of St. Mark’s Bookshop during a meeting today. Jolene Travis, a public relations officer at the college, told The Local that while the board of directors is still expected to come to a decision by the end of the month about whether or not to lower the book store’s rent, it won’t necessarily do so today. Another spokesperson went a step further and told Runnin’ Scared that there was no meeting of the board today.

According to Joyce Ravitz of Cooper Square Committee, the meeting is actually scheduled for tomorrow in the afternoon. “Tomorrow we’re going to hand in the petitions,” she told The Local. “I called for an appointment — we want to give them to Cooper Union officially.” She added that she hasn’t yet received a response from Cooper Union about a formal hand-off.

The petition now boats over 43,600 signatures.

Update | 1:40 p.m. Jolene Travis said over the phone that no board meetings are scheduled this week, and reiterated that “there are ongoing conversations with the board of trustees and the financial committee and a decision will be made at the end of the month in regards to St. Mark’s Bookshop.”

Video: Michael Moore Joins The Fight For The Bookshop

Michael Moore at St. Mark's bookstore 7Liv Buli Michael Moore addresses the crowd at St. Mark’s Bookshop.

A book signing at St. Mark’s Bookshop by Michael Moore turned into a rally for the embattled store on Thursday, as the champion of the left exhorted patrons to continue buying literature in person.

“At some point you just have to stop and stand up and say: ‘No more,’ ” Mr. Moore shouted to the roughly 100 people packing the store on Third Avenue.

Mr. Moore’s appearance reaffirmed the sudden swell of affection for the Bookshop, which has gone from a store struggling to turn a profit into a symbol of the rapidly changing neighborhood in only one month.

“It comes down to a simple bookstore here on the corner of Third Avenue and Ninth Street in the East Village in New York City,” Mr. Moore said in between criticism of corporate executives and appeals to the store’s landlord, Cooper Union.
Read more…

The Day | Score One For Bookworms

Theater for the New CityIan Gordon A street performance by the Theater for the New City.

Good Morning, East Village.

Hot on the heels of Michael Moore’s rallying cry for St. Mark’s Bookshop, the East Village book scene notches another victory. The New York Post reports that East Village Books owner Donald Davis helped apprehend a notorious New York City library thief in a sting that included the use of wrestling moves. This would make a great movie or, well, book.

City Room has run a collection of photographs by Leland Bobbe, a regular in the Downtown scene of the 1970s who shot the likes of Patti Smith, Mink DeVille and The Ramones.

The International Business Times takes a look at the Occupy Wall Street protests and finds a few similarities with the Tompkins Square Park Riot of 1988. Do you think the two have much in common?
Read more…

The Bookshop-Wall Street Connection

Here comes the cavalry. The embattled St. Mark’s Bookshop is gearing up for the arrival of the liberal icon Michael Moore, who just announced on Twitter that tonight all royalties from sales of his book, “Here Comes Trouble,” will go to the Occupy Wall Street protests. Mr. Moore is expected to arrive at 7 p.m. at the store on Third Avenue at Stuyvesant Street. The Local’s intrepid reporter, Liv Buli, will be on hand to get his opinion regarding the bookshop’s predicament. If you spot her, say hello!

St. Mark’s Bookshop May Hear from Cooper Union Today (Updated)

Screen shot 2011-09-23 at 9.45.52 AMJamie Larson

Yesterday, St. Mark’s Bookshop co-owner Bob Contant told The Local that he hoped to hear from Cooper Union today about his request for a $5,000 per month rent reduction, but knew nothing for sure: “They could table the whole thing.”

The Board of Directors has been holding regular committee meetings all week. Earlier in the week, Director of Public Affairs Claire McCarthy said the issue would likely be discussed at a meeting of the entire board on Wednesday; beyond that, she said, there was no new information.

She added that school officials are well aware of the Bookshop’s support but there is no timeline on a decision.

Meanwhile, Mr.Contant said, “All of this publicity has really helped us.” The number of signatures on the petition (now over 35,900) spiked over the weekend following a New York Times story.

Until a decision is made, the pressure remains on Cooper Union.

“Trying to look at it objectively,” Mr. Contant said, “the longer it goes on, the worse they look.”

Update | 8:07 p.m. It now appears that the story will not see it’s conclusion until the end of next month. Mr. Contant said that Cooper Union Vice President T.C. Wescott told him earlier today that the store’s request was being sent to the board’s Finance and Business Affairs Committee, and their report on the rent dispute is expected to be completed in late October. “Nobody wants to be pressured into making a decision,” Mr. Contant told The Local.

The Day | In Defense of IHOP

Phillip Kalantzis-Cope

Good morning, East Village.

While Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York offers up another post in support of St. Mark’s Bookshop, it looks like the troubled Heathers may be the latest neighborhood cause célèbre – L magazine’s blog, The Measure, thinks the bar’s liquor license should be renewed because “it is a bastion for a diverse mix of gay and straight creatives who are looking for a drink in an increasingly frat-like East Village bar scene.”

Voice critic Robert Sietsema eats cow tongue at Prune, but that’s hardly his most disconcerting dispatch today: After making light of the “ridiculous amounts of hoopla” over the 14th Street IHOP and pointing out that the place was half-empty around lunchtime, Mr. Sietsema stuffs some pancakes with sausages in an attempt to reproduce a childhood favorite. They’re “still superb.”

Still not sold on IHOP? Jimmy’s No. 43 will start serving brunch on Saturday. According to Zagat Buzz, items will include “‘black and tan’ griddle cakes (complete with ale batter, bananas, salted stout-caramel sauce, curry spiced pretzels, cocoa and powdered sugar).” Grub Street has still more East Village food news, including special meals at Hearth and JoeDoe. Read more…

Petition for Bookshop Gains Steam

The movement to convince Cooper Union administrators to lower the St. Mark’s Bookshop’s rent has become so popular that a petition for the store already has over 15,000 signatures. “St. Mark’s bookshop is vital! Please don’t let greed get the better of you!!” one of the signers of the petition wrote. The owners of the financially fragile bookshop have a meeting with Cooper Union officials on Wednesday.

St. Mark’s Bookshop Pushes Cooper Union For Lower Rent

IMG_0008Khristopher J. Brooks St. Mark’s Bookshop at 31 Third Avenue.

The co-owners of one of the neighborhood’s most popular bookstores pleaded to members of Community Board 3 last night for help as they struggle to stay in business.

The causes of the St. Mark’s Bookshop’s financial woes (a book industry in free-fall amid the rise of e-readers and online retailers) have been well documented. Things became so dire that the owners even posted an ominous note in the store entrance, saying “Find it here, buy it here, keep us here.”

Now, the store’s owners are pressing their landlord, Cooper Union, to reduce the $20,000-per-month rent for the space in the base of the dormitory building at Third Avenue and Stuyvesant Street. Read more…

St. Mark’s Bookshop Fights for Life

IMG_0008Khristopher J. BrooksSt. Mark’s Bookshop, 31 Third Avenue.

News that an old friend is seriously ill is sure to darken the day. Concern and sympathy are mingled with hopes for recovery as well as thoughts of one’s own precarious grasp on life. Those of us who love books to the point of distraction grapple with a similar set of emotions when a fondly visited bookstore shows signs of slipping away.

It can’t happen; it shouldn’t be allowed; and what about me? Where else can I go?

Robert Contant who, with partner Terence McCoy, is co-owner of St. Mark’s Bookshop on the corner of Third Avenue and Stuyvesant Street, blames his customers somewhat for the store’s current frailty. He has seen them browse through the store, then scan the barcode of a likely purchase with their smartphone only to discover they can order it more cheaply from, or from other online vendors which don’t bear the real estate and staff costs of running a brick and mortar store in a well-trafficked city neighborhood.

Mr. Contant hastens to explain that he speaks in sorrow, not in anger. “It’s hard to tell people not to save money,” he says, especially these days. “We’re not blaming them. We’re not trying to be punitive.” Nevertheless, anyone who has seen a book on the shelves of St. Mark’s, then purchased it online, should feel a pang of guilt reading the notice recently posted in the store window: “Find it here, buy it here, keep us here.”
Read more…

East Village Book Crawl

browsing outside Strand BooksMichelle RickBrowsing outside Strand Books.

I enjoyed the portrait of Mast Books by Brendan Bernhard we published yesterday because the clean, bright space has become one of my regular haunts on Avenue A. Not that I can claim to be a valued customer. I like to take my ten year-old daughter in there and point out the books I’ve already got. “I have that. I have that. I do have that, but in a different edition.” The problem for Mast Books, if not for me, is that its curation of titles is so close to my taste that the store’s bookshelves uncannily mirror my own.

Reading the piece, I mentally counted off the neighborhood’s surviving independent bookstores and paused to mourn a few long lost. Posman’s on University Place was somewhat west of the East Village but housed an extraordinary selection of academic paperbacks. This was a place to revel in critical theory, bask in sociology and drown in philosophy. Almost irreplaceable, but I get an adequate fix of Foucault and Badiou, together with the opportunity to browse improbably expensive glossy magazines, at St Mark’s Bookshop.

The Strand is the neighborhood giant, of course, and one of the largest bookstores in the world in terms of miles of shelving. Usually crowded, always hard to navigate thanks to crowd-sourced aisle dithering, it’s the place to find relatively new books heavily discounted as well as cheap used editions. The Strand has been easier to access since surveillance cameras took over from the bag check (like only people with large bags can steal books) and the store’s website, unlike aspects of the store itself, is a model of user-friendliness. Read more…