With the recent closing of bookshops in Manhattan, I went by to check on Mercer Street Books. The clerk assured me they're "under no imminent threat" of closure. Which was good news. As they are "inching...towards a third decade," the store is well-stocked, with books overflowing the shelves and spilling into bins and onto carts. It's what one blogger calls "a beautiful disaster."
A steady stream of customers came in and out, buying and selling books, perusing records, and sifting through the postcard collection, which revealed some excellent vanished items, including a shot of the shuttered S. Klein, formerly of Union Square, and another of Belinda's Go-Go Lounge, formerly of Williamsburg (now a Triple-5 Soul).
Even with the clerk's assurance, I do worry about Mercer, as its surroundings have become the territory of mall-shoppers and fashionistas.
While I was there, a carefully manicured young man came in, carrying some sort of racket in a leather bag and shouting into his cell phone. After several minutes of distractedly walking the aisles, all the while shouting into his phone, he asked the clerk, "Can you do a query?"
"Um," said the clerk, "the books aren't on computer. What are you looking for?"
"I need to find Obsession," said the phone- and racket-wielding man, "the biography of Calvin Klein?"
They didn't have it.