Saturday, November 25, 2023

RIP Bob Contant

Bob Contant, co-founder and co-owner of St. Mark's Bookshop, died at his Manhattan home on Nov. 6. Per published reports, he died of cardiac arrest. He was 80. 

According to Shelf Awareness, Contant was born in Rochester, N.Y., and grew up in suburban Washington, D.C. After college, he worked at the Washington Public Library and, after a move to Cambridge, Mass., at two of Harvard's libraries and then at several Harvard Square bookstores.
He came to New York in 1972 and was manager of the old 8th Street Bookshop in Greenwich Village. In 1977, Contant, along with others working at East Side Books — Terry McCoy, Peter Dargis, and Tom Evans — decided to open their own store at 13 St. Mark's Place. St. Mark's Bookshop moved to a larger location, at 12 St. Mark's Place, in 1987 and then in 1993 to a new development by Cooper Union at 31 Third Avenue. 

The store built on its strength in poetry, critical studies, small press literature, and art. But after many years, with a change of board, the school shifted its approach to the bookstore and offered no help when, in the wake of the financial crisis, St. Mark's had trouble paying its $20,000-a-month rent. 
After 38 years at four locations, St. Mark's Bookshop eventually closed for good on Feb. 28, 2016, at a smaller space on 136 E. Third St. between Avenue A and First Avenue.

Adena Siegel, a retired sales representative at Yale University Press, Harvard U Press and MIT Press,  remembered Contant as "a passionate bookseller, principled, enthusiastic, so knowledgeable," per Shelf Awareness.

1 comment:

Trixie said...

I can definitely see heaven as a brightly lit bookshop, open 24 hours a day, and I can definitely picture Bob there.