04 June 2009

City Bookstores, Going and Coming

Allow me to stray from libraryland for a moment and share some news about NYC bookstores.

Morningside Bookshop will be closing its doors at the end of the week. The owner, Peter Soter, owes his landlord (Columbia University) $158,000 in back rent for the store's space on 114th and Broadway. If you know anything about the book biz, you probably realize how impossibly difficult it is to sustain an independent bookstore in this (or any) city, much less turn a profit.

I've done the majority of my book-buying at Morningside's neighborhood indie competitor, Book Culture (née Labyrinth). I admit that without guilt: Book Culture is a great bookstore with a strong academic bent. I suspect that in the battle for customer dollars, Morningside Bookshop has been doomed for some time. Book Culture maintains a significantly larger selection of titles and has direct ties to Columbia's students and faculty. At 112th and Broadway, the incomparable Bank Street Bookstore stocks everything parents and under-aged bibliophiles desire. And then there's the Columbia University Bookstore — ahem, Barnes & Noble — that sits directly across the street from Morningside Bookshop. In short, I'm surprised it lasted this long.

Over in Fort Greene, a couple of entrepreneurial book-lovers are hoping their neighborhood will embrace Greenlight Bookstore when it opens this fall. Will it work? According to this NY Times article from last September, the community is clamouring for a local independent bookstore.

Finally, here's a "bookstore" that has no chance of failing: the Carturesti Book Exhibition transplants the look and feel of Bucharest's Carturesti bookstore to the Romanian Cultural Institute, New York. Enjoy the literary atmosphere with no sales pressure!

1 comment:

Johnnie S Rostrum said...

Rahoo for Greenlight Bookstore! Bring it!