A quick piece of local bookstore-related news: it seems that St. Mark’s Bookshop, an East Village institution since 1977, is in danger of closing due to rent increases that have become rather burdensome. The bookstore rents its space on 3rd Ave. between 8th and 9th streets from the Cooper Union, and is hoping to collect 15,000 signatures (they have 10,710 as of this writing) to support its request for a rent decrease. The petition, which you can sign here reads as follows:
“The St. Mark’s Bookshop, a vital Lower East Side cultural institution, needs a rent low enough to survive. Join the Cooper Square Committee petitioning Cooper Union, the bookstore’s landlord, to give St. Mark’s Bookshop a lower rent.
The St. Mark’s Bookshop has a long tradition in the Lower East Side and serves an admirable and increasingly rare function. St. Mark’s is struggling to pay the market rent that Cooper Union is charging them at 31 3rd Ave. A significant rent concession by Cooper Union could save this irreplaceable neighborhood institution.”
Now I know that everyone’s rents are high and many small businesses aren’t getting rent breaks from their landlords, but I still think that it’s worth supporting this petition. St. Mark’s is not only an independent bookstore that has continued to be successful even as big bookstore giants like Border’s go under–it’s a store that really seeks to reflect the interests and culture of the neighborhood it exists in. The artfully-curated selection in the store reflects the surrounding neighborhood in its many art books, its wide-ranging books about music and East Village history and culture, and also diverse fiction, much of which is written by New York-based authors. Perhaps St. Marks could relocate to another, cheaper neighborhood, but that would mean a real and unfortunate change to the fabric of the East Village and a shift in what makes St. Mark’s–and its stock–a unique and valuable bookstore.
So, if you’re interested in preserving this genuinely local institution, sign the petition, or just stop by and purchase a couple books. A little goes a long way.