After more than 43,000 people signed the petition to Save St. Mark's Bookshop, after Michael Moore rallied the troops at a packed house and Salman Rushdie wrote to the school president to say that not supporting the bookstore would be an "unforgivable" and "irreversible cultural mistake," Cooper Union still said no.
They were asked to reduce the rent on the bookstore from $20,000 to $15,000 per month, and they said no. They said they are "broke."
Broke? Reportedly, Cooper Union has a $600 million endowment, $60 million of which goes to their annual budget. They just spent $150 million building a shiny new academic building at 7th St., and in 2008 they sold 51 Astor Place for close to $100 million to be developed into a corporate office tower. But they're broke. They own the land under the Chrysler Building (bringing in millions annually), but they're broke. The Wall Street Journal said they're doing great financially--better than most colleges.
What do they really want? Said bookstore co-owner Contant to PW, "We were told yesterday we wouldn't be able to afford a renewal on our lease." Cooper Union officials told the bookshop owners they want to rent the space for $40,000.
Who can afford to pay $40,000 a month? A bank can afford it. Starbucks can afford it. Marc Jacobs can afford it. Do we need more of those?
In my open letter to Cooper Union, I said I would launch a campaign to boycott any business that moves into the space at 31 Third Avenue should St. Mark's Books be forced to close. This tactic was used by Upper West Siders to save their local pharmacy, and it worked. It can work again. So I'm starting with a petition. Please sign it--then tweet it, Facebook it, blog it, share it with as many people as you can.
Click above or copy and paste this link:
Sign the petition if you love St. Mark's Books. Sign it if you just love books. Sign it if you're sick and tired of watching New York City's cultural touchstones go down the toilet day after day. Sign it if you miss the East Village before it became a frat house. Sign it if you hate having a bank on every corner and a chain store on every other. Sign it because you're mad as hell and you're not going to take it anymore!
And, yes, of course--go buy some books while you're at it.
Read more on this story:
Paris Review for St. Mark's
Michael Moore at St. Mark's
An Open Letter to Cooper Union
Buy A Book Weekend at St. Mark's
Xmas in September
St. Mark's Vestibule