VANISHED: December 31, 2007
It is with great ambivalence that I report on the last day of the Astor Place Barnes & Noble. Tomorrow, the book behemoth will be gone. In the meantime, they are having the crappiest 50% off sale ever--unless you're in the market for military history pictorials, diet books, and calendars featuring golden retrievers.
I'm supposed to hate chains. For the record, I don't. I hate the chains' proliferation and domination of this city. I hate the way they're turning the city into a mall. A couple here and there would not be a problem.
About Barnes & Noble I am quite conflicted. I resent their awesome power in the book world (their buyers dictate what gets published and what doesn't), but I also love books. And I like them a lot more than gym rats, who will soon flock to the David Barton that is rumored to move in. Also, B&N is a public space of sorts--we can all go inside that beautiful old building and enjoy it. A gym is members-only space.
I admit, I will miss the place. But my hope is that, with B&N gone, the few independents it didn't kill will thrive and more will open.
The folks at St. Mark's Books are already freaking out a little. I'm freaking out a little--because the small shop is packed already with people who don't normally shop there. This means you can forget about a calm, pleasant browsing experience--expect to be pushed and shoved. The cashier told me they've been gearing up for the post-Barnes & Noble flood, pumping up their inventory.
I asked if they'd be changing to appeal to their new customers. Thankfully, he denied any plans to stock up on self-help books and puppy calendars.