St. Mark’s Bookstore, which has been a Lower East Side fixture for over three decades, was saved from eviction thanks
The bookstore was facing closure due to owing $7500 in back rent to its landlord, the legendary Cooper Union. On top of the back rent, they were informed the rent was being raised to $20,000 a month. The CSC stepped in on behalf of the bookstore, believing such a local mainstay needed to be protected. Their efforts along with the public outcry reflected in the petition, was enough to compel Cooper Union to back off. They agreed to forgive the outstanding debt and give St. Mark’s a one year extension with a rent reduction. Abraham Lincoln, who once spoke in Cooper Union’s Great Hall, would have approved.
This is an encouraging story given the recent state of bookstores in general. Giants Borders and Barnes and Noble are often blamed for driving independent bookstores out of business and it was perhaps bitter irony that Borders went out of business earlier this year. Barnes and Noble’s continued success is credited to the popularity of its Nook line of e-readers rather than to its events or customer service. Independent bookstores are a vital part of our culture, connecting readers and writers in a way the big chains can’t or perhaps simply can’t be bothered to make the effort to. Let’s hope this victory will provide inspiration to other struggling bookstores and the people that love them.