One of the best curated bookstores I’ve ever been to in my entire life, St. Marks Books, is in trouble. Facing a rent increase from the Cooper Union, the 34 year old New York City institution faces a financial bind it might not survive. The community has supported by buying books in droves and signing petitions but what it will take is the clemency of the college that owns the building. As of this writing St. Marks is scheduled to appeal their rent increase, though no date has been set for the meeting. If you would like to help out, co-owner Terry McCoy puts it best…
“Think of us when you’re going to buy a book or magazine or even a card or postcard. We have calendars, too, and Moleskine…. That, to me, is the best kind of support. The point we are making, the difference between how we approached Cooper Union last summer and this summer, is that we’re saying we’re an integral part of the community. Last year we approached them with numbers, and they came back with their own. But this community is really concerned about preserving independent businesses and diversity, to keep this from becoming a mall-type chain-store bank-branch neighborhood.”
Even before I moved to New York, every time I’d visit I would make a special trip to St. Marks just to walk around, find some stuff I wouldn’t have normally found if I’d been searching online. This is the importance of the well-curated independent bookstore: to introduce voices to the community that would not have otherwise been heard. What makes this instance of indie bookstore plight important is this is happening in the center of the literary universe. What happens here has a ripple effect on the national and global community. And what happens when the indie bookstore is closed? Voices get silenced, once again.