Friday, July 22, 2011

Bookberries

VANISHING

Manhattan is losing yet another independent bookshop. Reader esquared told us in a comment yesterday that Bookberries at Lexington and 71st "will be vanishing soon. saw a going out of business sign."


Lia Raum

A couple years ago, the Woman About Town blog wrote, "Thomas Jefferson once wrote to John Adams, 'I cannot live without books.' For those who love books and who relish the experience of browsing for a good read, Bookberries, an independent bookstore on the Upper East Side, is a treasure trove."

Meanwhile, on the Upper West Side, Avi chronicles the loss of neighborhood bookstores and remembers the day when the shops in that part of town said "intellectuals live here; being smart is more important than being rich; and, of course, nerds are welcome." We now live in a time and place where people would rather live without books. They've got their Kindles and Nooks, iPads and iPhones, and that's all they want. The rest of us are screwed along with them.

A call to the store confirms Bookberries will be closed this Saturday and Sunday, then open next Monday to Wednesday for their final week in business. Their last day will be July 27. They will not be moving to a new location. Maybe a cupcake shop will take their place and then all the zombies will be happy.


At the Strand

Before these are all gone, go buy some real books, will you?

St. Mark's Bookshop
Three Lives and Co.
Bookbook
Mast
Rob Warren Books
New Left Bank
Westsider
Mercer Street

29 comments:

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

It don't matter, my '100 Whores' has been gathering dust ever since it's been at the St Marks Bookshop all to no avail. And no it's not in ebook it's meant to be read by holding it in the old fashioned way, turning the pages of a book about the whores on 3rd Ave and 12-14 Streets which was a such a living area once upon a time. But which is slowly dying out...

http://www.100Whores.com
http://www.MykolaDementiuk.com
Lambda Literary Awards Winner 2009/Bisexual Fiction

John M said...

Wow, was that really Mick Dementiuk? Wow.

I have to say that I go to bookstores of any stripe less and less, but I do buy books...online, and have them delivered to the office. It's just easier for us. And has St. Mark's stopped hiring surly employees? The last few times I was in, which was last winter, the people working seemed to have moved from aggressively unfriendly to a more bored-and-I-wish-I-was-anywhere-else-but-here, grudging semi-helpfulness. That's been going on for years, can't help but think it might have a little to do with their woes.

The fact is, the demise of the independent bookstore was a story when I finally moved to New York in early 1985. 25 years later, we're still discussing it. That's a long, long death rattle. But you know, I think a few will always be around to serve people whose tastes run beyond what they can get on Amazon or at B&N. Or they'll open internet businesses to serve those folks.

Almost 20 years ago, pundits started saying that the internet would be the end of brick and mortar shopping. They were wrong, but it did destroy the CD business and Virgin, Tower, etc. And books are just as easily sold online; they are rarely an urgent item that you must have now.

And so it goes. Our old way of life becomes more quaint every year, it seems. Our grandparents and parents went through the same thing. I always wondered how my father felt the first time he heard a treasured song from the 1930s adulterated and abused in a TV commercial. Now I know!

John M said...

BTW, I just checked Barnes and Noble online, and they don't have '100 Whores'. But they do have Dementiuk's 'Times Queer' and 'Vienna Dolorosa' in paperback, and 'Times Square Cutie' as a Nook book.

'100 Whores' is available on Amazon. Order today and get it in your hands by Monday. Or go to St. Mark's and pick up one of those dusty copies, if you have the time. Increasingly, I just don't.

AfineLyne said...

There are very few still left in the Village & I pray they can somehow thrive. I will say I have to agree w/John M on many many points including his take on St Mark's Bookstore and most definitely on his take about the changing of the seasons in our life - that our 60's/70's - even 80's ways of doing things are now from a generation that is one step down the ladder. The current tech savy generation - it is their World now.

JAZ said...

I have been as guilty as anyone in not spending enough of what I can afford to spend at independent bookstores, but I am going to make a concerted effort to change that. I'm fixin to jump on the 6 after work, and head over to St. Marks to grab 100 Whores - would be some great weekend reading, and I'd love to proudly crack it open on the subway this weekend, horrifying the tourists catching a glimpse of the cover as they fold up their maps and herd their kids to the other side of the car.

I don't spend much time on the UES, but regardless I can confirm your suspicion that they are indeed in dire need of a cupcake shop for the zombies - more accurately, an "Ye Olde Tyme Artisinal Cupcake Shoppe".

After all, wouldn't Samantha and Miranda rather stop in there after shopping Madison Ave. than some boring book store?

Jeremiah Moss said...

see that? you cannot horrify the tourists with a Kindle. they have no idea what you're reading.

rather, the Kindle reassures them. you're not some intellectual New York snob. you're just another regular person who loves electronic devices.

Mick Cantone said...

You are absolutely right, Jeremiah. One cannot upset tourists with a kindle. That is why I still cherish my horror magazines and Marquis de Sade paperbacks. Reading Sade or gory horror mags on a Kindle will NEVER cause the consternation and upset that the physical medium can bring to passersby. Also, regarding AfineLyne's statement that the world today belongs to the current tech-savvy generation may be true, but we have one thing they don't: our imaginations and social skills.

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

Sad to say but all of my books are available on Amazon or check my web site for other distributors. I know but we're coming to an end of an era. Some of us hate to see it vanish but that's what is in store for us. Poof! It's gone...

Goggla said...

When I was a kid, I loved to make my own books. I'd write the story, do the illustrations and then staple the pages together at the spine. Later, I learned to sew the signatures and page edges with colored yarn.

Do kids still do things like this?

Mitch Broder said...

I have to confess that names like "Bookberries" make me a little queasy. That said, I mourn the store's passing; Kindles make me queasier. And because they do, to me the more harrowing news today is the death of Borders. Yes, it was a chain and it got lousier every year, but one of the reasons it died is that it banked on books. Those guys who sell books on the sidewalks may soon be supping at '21.'

Mick Cantone said...

Funny you should mention that, Goggla. I used to make books when I was a boy too. To answer your question, I highly doubt many schoolchildren make books like that today. In about 10 years time, they will be teaching childern to make mock Kindles and such like. Sad.

Marty Wombacher said...

Two of my favorite stores are book stores and record shops and they are all slowly dying. I've never been to Bookberries, but will try to stop in next week to buy something and get a look at it before it closes. I pray that Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books on Carmine St. never closes. A great ever-changing selection of books at what I think has to be the least expensive prices in town.

BaHa said...

I love the chance meetings with books that I'd never heard of, which only happens in a bookstore or the NYPL. And far too much of the NYPL shelf space is devoted to DVDs of Sex and the City and the like. The TSP librarian actually said to me that it was so wonderful to get rid of all those messy books!

Jeremiah Moss said...

what?! a LIBRARIAN said s/he was glad to be rid of books? what is wrong with people? what is happening to people's brains? where am i? what the fuck is this place?

BaHa said...

What the fuck indeed?
I've worked in publishing (on the editorial side) just about all my working live. And I have a Kindle. Ninety percent of the books on it are classics that I already own...I'm an annoying fast reader and would never be able to pack enough books for even a 4-day trip. This way, I have Austen, Trollope, Benson, and the Brontes, among others, tucked in my purse. And I can't wait until the NYPL makes books available for Kindles this fall. (And it will cost them more than a regular book, which can be taken out until it falls apart. Kindle version will have to be repurchased after every 26 loans.)
And, by the way, I still buy more real books than I can afford!

BaHa said...

@Mick: My partner is definitely getting 100 Whores for his birthday next month. (And then I get to read it, too!) From St. Mark's, of course!

JAZ said...

BaHa - I am not one to call for someone elses job lightly, but the librarian really said that, then she should be relieved of her duties as soon as possible.

It is horrifying to think that she deals with the early impression a child has of books - numerous times per day.

eatenbybears said...

I remember back in the 80s St. Mark's was on the ropes financially and one of the main complaints of people was that they refused to carry popular titles. They had this attitude. So, I figured, the hell with them. Let them go under. They didn't take any steps to remedy the situation. Pretentious pricks. I bought books there. They had a good selection of what I was looking for, but they had a bad attitude. I stopped going there. Frankly, I'm surprised they lasted this long.

onemorefoldedsunset said...

My kids made books, though admittedly this was before kindles. Neither gives a fuck about kindles however, so I must have done something right! I can't imagine not having time to get to a bookstore, though perhaps I've wasted too much time reading to have a jam-packed professional & social calendar. Damn books ruined my life.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure they could open up a brand new Cupcake shop in it's place, or maybe a FROYO spot. Us New Yorkers just love Orgranic FroYo. How about a new neighborhood called "FroYo" where they serve FroYo on every corner. The FroYo district.

Anonymous said...

This isn't really a NYC phenomenon; they seem to be vanishing all over.

kateoverseas said...

Look, I know you see us as the oncoming hoard, the first generation of the apocalypse or something, but can you at least pretend that some of us are still pursuing careers and lives in books and art and intellectual pursuits? We're not all the next incarnations of Sartre and de Beauvoir, but it's not all zombies from you on out.

The whole "après nous, le déluge" attitude that gets thrown around here really grates on me. Do you really think everyone younger than you loathes books simply because the internet exists? That we must have no communicative or imaginative skills because, what, the people on TV don't? I somehow doubt that many of you fit into the mold of the prototypical members of your own generations, yet you still feel free to paint us with wide brushstrokes of incompetence and willful ignorance.

Mick Cantone said...

kateoverseas, if that is the case, then you are a lone pearl among a toxic bed of oysters.

Katrink said...

kateoverseas: it's HORDE, not hoard.

Anonymous said...

St Marks does carry many popular titles- at least those which are popular among the trendy pseudo-hip, books that are so obvious they wind up in every follower's collection. But the bane of the city is the Strand, which is getting more commercial by the day and increasingly a place for tourists.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i'm sure plenty of young people read books and make art, etc., but where are your voices? and where are the next Sartres and de Beauvoirs? what happened to the avant garde? it didn't die with you--it died somewhere in the 1980s. you were just born into, and of, that bereft era that spawned our current way of life.

so now what?

Anonymous said...

I'm so tired of being young and blamed for everything that everyone decides is wrong with the world. I'm tired of being blamed for being born into recessions bred from the baby boomers' greed or their ignorance from hours of talk radio or 24-hour news. I'm tired of being blamed for gentrification, and for poverty where gentrification doesn't reach. I'm tired of people older than me washing their hands of the world I've been given and tsk-tsking about the habits I take up when my income is meager, my time is occupied with increasing my income, and my generation's culture is so constantly berated that it's become cool to be nostalgic about eras we never lived in.
It's great when a small bookstore outlives Borders, but when it dies, it's about technological advances- not about young people and the extent to which they detest reading in favor of hedonistic games and television.

Jeremiah Moss said...

as a Gen X'er, i know what it's like to be criticized as a generation. but you can't blame technology. technology is a just a dumb, blunt instrument, a tool that people choose to use or not. some choose to worship it and value it over all else. others choose to use it moderation.

either way, people are to blame.

people are to blame for technology's negative impact on our culture. as a blogger, i participate in that. we all participate. none of us here are blameless. hopefully, we are conscious of our participation, we feel some remorse, and so make different choices elsewhere to limit the impact.

unfortunately, i hear a lot of young people often saying "it's not my fault" about a lot of things. it is your fault, just as it's my fault, too. until we each accept that, and make up for it in other ways, nothing changes.

James Taylor said...

"The poets round here don't write nothing at all/They just stand back and let it all be..."