I finally got the chance to catch up with the new incarnation of one of my favorite (lost) bookshops. Skyline Books has become Rob Warren Books, relocated to the Flower District, in a strange spot that is not easy to find.
At 51 West 28th Street, between Broadway and 6th Avenue, the bookshop is less a shop and more of a temporary holding pen for books. It takes up the first dozen square feet or so of a flower merchant's business, so that the room smells not of musty books, but of plant life, sort of muddy and green, vaguely tropical. Workmen go in and out, hauling flowers back and forth. Behind the books is a room full of florists, trimming flowers on tables.
The books are arranged in boxes and on incidental shelving. Some are stacked on Greek-style pedestals meant to hold potted plants. (No Linda the cat in sight.)
Deb Sperling, with the full story in the NY Press, said it well: "the sight of piles of used and rare books practically budding from the leaves in a florist’s window on this dumpy stretch of the neighborhood is at once inspiring—and heartbreaking. Although it’s a relief to see that something real still exists in this zone, it’s also crushing since it seems too fragile to withstand the harsh economic climate."
Still, it's inspiring to see this business hanging on and taking a creative approach to survival. And Mr. Warren has plans--he's looking for a space south of 14th Street where people will welcome a bookshop.