It's been a bad week for Manhattan's bookstores. First we heard the Strand Annex will be shuttering. Then the rumor that Biography Bookshop might be closing turned out to be partly true--they are in their final year. Finally, I discovered that 12th Street Books will be closing this summer.
After a decade on 12th between University and 5th, the bookshop's lease is ending and the neighboring restaurant, Strip House, is expanding into the space.
Strip House is one of those odd upscale chains that manages to keep its chain-identity on the down low--they've got a total of 9 locations, and their owners, the Glazier Group, also own at least 4 other restaurants, including Michael Jordan's Steak House. Their website says, "Our locations reflect our interest in historical environments throughout New York City. Drawn to preserving important cultural landscapes, we interpret their past and blend those details with a modern spirit."
Sadly, in 1999, Strip House replaced 75-year-old Asti, "one of New York's most beloved and treasured restaurants," where the waitstaff sang opera while they served Italian dishes. Said one baritone at the time, "In the last decade, our customers either died, retired or could no longer afford to come regularly." I kicked myself when it closed, having never made a visit. Somehow, I doubt that Strip House has managed to preserve the historical, cultural landscape of Asti.
Of Mr. Glazier, the Strip House website says he has "put a permanent mark on New York City's history and landscape by taking ordinary locations and converting them into spectacular concepts." Correction: Asti was the absolute opposite of ordinary and 12th Street Books is a rarity in a city hellbent on making bookstores disappear.
Luckily, 12th Street has found a new space, but it's nowhere near the Village. I spoke to Macklin, the guy who's often mistaken for the owner, and he told me about their plans to move to 179 Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn, where they will change their name to Atlantic Books. He expects they'll be gone in late August. Until then, if you have books to sell, bring them to 12th Street. They'd love to buy them and it's a way to give them support.
For the record, I am really going to miss this bookshop. They often have what I'm looking for and I regularly pass by, stopping in to find books I didn't know I wanted. 12th Street is one of a dying breed of used bookshops--a breed I predict will almost completely vanish from Manhattan in the next 5 years.