Friday, September 9, 2011

How you can help save the St. Mark's Bookshop

From the EV Grieve inbox .... Background here

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.

So I created a petition to Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science, which says:

"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."

Will you sign this petition? Click here

Joyce Ravitz
Cooper Square Committee


Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

I signed it. It's not because they have my book "100 Whores" on display but this form of economic censorship cannot be allowed to persist. With the rich taking over our homes are we to give up everything else? What will be left us? A vacant store that not many can afford to go into when it was in business? Save St Mark Bookshop! Please...

VH McKenzie said...

I signed. Perhaps Cooper Union could keep the rent low in exchange for deep discounts to Cooper Union students and faculty. One would think that a college, of all landlords, would be supportive of maintaining a bookstore in its own backyard.

Janos Marton said...

Commercial landlords are the real threat to this neighborhood.

glue glass said...

they are going to bury us with petitions and letters. we must not give up!
cooper union is a commercial landlord! as is NYU. all land grabbers.

cooper union - you pay no tax on the city-land you are grabbing on the LES, and you plan to build an awful looking, very expensive new glass building on city-owned property - further destroying our community. don't add to the insults you shower upon us by destroying a long-term independent bookstore. one of the once many that graced our neighborhood,

Marty Wombacher said...

Signed and Tweeted, for what it's worth.

Crazy Eddie said...

Done. Don't forget the GVSHP letter as well.

Patricia Kennealy-Morrison said...

Signed and Facebooked. As a local author, I am outraged that our last bookshop is being threatened in such a way. We don't need another damn bar or bank or bookstore. Cooper Union needs to do the right thing and cut them a break on the rent. We've lost too much here already.

Caleo said...

I remember when the bookshop was actually on St. Marks.
If things go sour with Cooper Union, would they consider a move back to St. Marks Place.
I usually avoid St. Marks, but the space they originally occupied was vacant a while back, or maybe the space next door.
There are options.

Rachel Kessler said...

Done. It would be ridiculous for anything to happen to this cherished book store, like something out of a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie. Will forward this around so we can get those signatures!

nygrump said...

Caleo - do you recall when they opened an outlet across the street, it just about put them out of business when that failed and I believe the result was they had to move...

Anonymous said...

Wasted my time and signed it too.

KairosKim said...

Definitely remember when they were on St. Marks, both places. I waitroned at the little place next door - they came in for lunch... Charles and his pita melts.

Signed and sent to friends.
Remaining optimistic, just because.

Caroline said...

In addition to signing the petition, can I suggest trying to buy a book from St. Marks in the next few weeks? Especially if you were planning on getting something anyway. I just bought a book from St. Marks today.

Online petitions are good - and I agree Cooper Union should give the bookstore a break - but purchases would help too!

Anonymous said...

This seems crazy to me. Which is more worthy of support - a for-profit store that sells expensive books or a unique school that gives one of the few truly free college educations in our country?

Cooper Union needs to make as much revenue as it can so it can continue to give no-strings-attached free education. I'd be sad to see the bookstore go, but it's not a public library and it's not Cooper Union's fault that folks aren't buying books anymore. If you feel so strongly about saving the bookstore, write them a check yourselves - taking money away from Cooper will just decrease the funds available to run their schools.

Anonymous said...

The bookshop has asked for relief of $5,000 per month, or $60,000 per year. Essentially, since money is fungible, they are asking Cooper Union to expel 2 of its full-scholarship students (or fire some of its professors or staff) so that the bookshop can remain profitable. Sad to see a bookstore go, but would be sadder to see Cooper Union abandon its historic mission with respect to those 2 students. If each of the 15,000 signatories to the petition just sent in $4 to St. Marks - or if each just bought a hardcover book - then the shop would be saved. It's obvious that the community supporting the petition doesn't care enough to give up one of their daily lattes, but is willing to make 2 students pay the ultimate price.

Anonymous said...

^^ I don't think this is as black and white as what the Cooper Union apologistas are claiming this to be. It's not that Cooper Union will have to expel 2 full -time students, or fire professors or staff. Cooper Union owns other properties in the EV. I'm sure there are other ways for CU to make that $60,000 and other revenue.

Furthermore, it's not just about the loss of yet another bookstore; St. Mark's bookshop has been an East Village staple, a cultural institution and a vital part of the community for years. Cooper Union is supposed to be an institution dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences, which should understand the value of of St. Mark's Bookshop. What would you rather have in place of the bookshop? A Starbucks? A bank? A pharmacy? or god forbid, another bar? anyone who can meet CU's demand for the rent they're asking for, so that, as you have argued, those two students, or the professors, or the staff can stay?

As for "It's obvious that the community supporting the petition doesn't care enough to give up one of their daily lattes, but is willing to make 2 students pay the ultimate price.. That's a myopic statement as Cooper Union raising the rent. Yes, blame the decline of real book sales because of the e-readers. But don't blame and assume that those who are signing the petitions aren't buying books at St. Mark's Bookshop (or anywhere else) and that we're not giving up our lattes for books, or drink lattes at all. It is just peremptory as CU not giving St. Mark's bookshop a rent concession. Then again, you are defending CU. But don't worry, should St. Mark's Bookshop close, the 2 students can stay and get brighter, while the East Village becomes blander, duller, homogenized, and boring.

Anonymous said...

"That's a myopic statement as Cooper Union raising the rent."

But Cooper Union is NOT raising the rent. 3 years ago, St. Mark's had the choice to renew or not renew and they negotiated a 10 year deal. They didn't have to choose expensive space. They could have moved to cheaper space within the neighborhood. St. Mark's just doesn't want to (or says it isn't able to) pay the rent they agreed to and still maintain a profit. Historically, they've only been in the Cooper Union space since the 90's, and in the St. Mark's area since the 70's. Just because Cooper Union has other properties and comparatively large coffers (as does NYU, by the way), doesn't mean that all of that money it has is excess, or that Cooper Union, as a non-profit institution, should pay over some of that money used for non-profit purposes to a for-profit store. You might as well ask the NY Public Library to take some of its public space and provide it free of charge to St. Mark's. What's the difference?? In any event, New York City is a dynamic, changing city. The Automat is no longer in business. Countless better bookstores are no longer in business. My goodness, the Lower East Side is a different ethnic make-up than it was in 1911 - would you restrict that change in the name of some kind of neighborhood conservatism?

If a bank, bar or a Starbucks is willing to pay the rent to CU, then, because it allows CU to deliver free QUALITY educations, that use is automatically a higher, better use than a bookstore. The engineers, architects and artists that come out of CU are worth the effort. Unless, of course, you think that privately-held businesses catering to a select few must be allowed to succeed at the expense of schools and libraries.

The bottom line - you want an amenity in your community that you think makes it less dull and bland - and you want someone else, a non-profit to boot, to pay for it.

If you want a less "homogeneous" neighborhood, move to Queens, Brooklyn, northern Manhattan - maybe St. Mark's can move with you and serve a new community who will be willing to buy books. Or WALK just one-quarter mile to The Strand. Or WALK a few more blocks to 18th and 5th, the site of the original (well, 2nd location anyway), local, independent Barnes & Noble store - just pretend that it never expanded in the 80's and failed to enable many more people to read cheaply than St. Mark's.

Lastly, I AM blaming the 15,000 people who are signing the petition for taking the easy, unthinking, point & click way out - they don't want to give a measly $4 apiece (PER YEAR) to St. Mark's - they want CU to fund their $4 in its entirety. And they want to suggest that somehow CU, a non-profit, is an evil, non-contributor to the community, when they've done more in supporting the community (and defining the community) than almost any other institution in the area. That's my real objection to this. If you want a worthwhile petition, petition NYC to fund more hours for libraries in neighborhoods where people can't afford to pay the prices for books that St. Mark's charges. Petition to have NYC pay for better-stocked libraries in the Public Schools. Petition to have class sizes lowered so that kids can actually learn to read well. This current petition movement IS a snobbish, latte-fueled whine by those who want to fund their personal nostalgia on the dime of more compelling needs in this City.

Anonymous said...

"If you don't like the homogenized East Village move to ______" such the cry of a gentrifier.

"The bottom line - you want an amenity in your community that you think makes it less dull and bland". Obvious you're not part of the community.

And reading and buying books from an independent bookshop is snobbish? Seriously? I don't drink latte, by the way. So, not all those who are signing petitions drink latte or do not not purchase books at St. Mark's Bookshop.

You're actually in arguing for the closure of this bookstore. Best of luck to you. Says a lot about you.

I suppose you'd prefer a David Barton gym, or cupcake, or fro-yo shop, or ramen shop. Enjoy them all, when St. Mark's bookshop. I guess that's your idea of of "more compelling needs in this City".

Anonymous said...

A ramen shop would be a awesome.

Anonymous said...

Internal Memo from today.....

To: The Cooper Union Community

From: The Office of Public Affairs

Monday, September 26, 2011

Last week the Board of Trustees discussed the ongoing matter regarding St. Mark’s Bookshop, which we understand many in the Cooper community have been following. We are sharing with you the outcome of that meeting before we inform those outside of The Cooper Union who have expressed interest in the resolution of St. Mark’s request.

The Board of The Cooper Union is giving serious consideration to the matter regarding St. Mark's Bookshop. After discussion at its recent meeting, the Board decided to have the situation thoroughly examined by its Finance and Business Affairs committee. The Board believes that the request deserves the committee's analysis, the outcome of which will be announced at the end of October.

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