“Rising rents in Manhattan have forced out many retailers, from pizza joints to flower shops. But the rapidly escalating cost of doing business there is also driving out bookstores, threatening the city’s sense of self as the center of the literary universe, the home of the publishing industry and a place that lures and nurtures authors and avid readers.”
– Literary City, Bookstore Desert: Surging Rents Force Booksellers From Manhattan : Julie Bosman, 25 March 2014, New York Times
…this sounded really familiar to me for some reason. Oh, right:
“The B. Dalton on Fifth stayed open for close to two decades, until 1997. At that point the chain was owned by Barnes & Noble — and the hubbub wasn’t about new big boxes forcing out bookstores, but about rising rents in New York forcing some of the big boxes to close.”
– , 24 February 2009
…and the B. Dalton on Fifth, that Rocket Bomber made note of five years ago?
“After 36 years of business, the Doubleday Book Shop on Fifth Avenue, a cerebral antidote to Tiffany’s glitter and Bergdorf’s finery, is shutting its doors at the end of the month. It will be the seventh bookstore to close on the avenue since the early 1980’s, signaling the end of midtown Manhattan’s strolling boulevard for book lovers.”
– Another Fifth Ave. Bookshop Is Felled by High Rents : Lisa W. Foederaro, 17 June 1997 …that was seventeen years ago, as reported in some local rag, which one was it again? oh, yeah: the New York Times.
“‘You just have to walk down Fifth Avenue to see what New York has become — it’s become an outlet mall for rich people,’ said Esther Newberg, a literary agent, adding that she had just received an email from a Random House editor noting that the company was able to print books quickly because it owns its own printing plant. ‘Why don’t they own their own bookstore?’”
Bosman, op. cit.
Barnes & Noble could stand to own a little real estate, too: I mean, why negotiate rents, why not own the building? Of course, they did own a building, but they closed that bookstore in January.
I find it hard to cry for Manhattan. I feel sorry for some New Yorkers but it seems like the Powers That Be are rebuilding that borough into exactly what they want, a gated community and theme park for the rich …and apparently, also a collection of neighborhoods without bookstores.
Perhaps this should instead be a wake-up call for every publisher who still maintains an office in Manhattan: is it really worth the rent? I mean, when you can’t walk down the street to see your product for sale in a store window, is New York really the “book capital” of the US anymore?
“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore it knows it’s not fooling a soul.”
? Neil Gaiman, American Gods
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