After tens of thousands of petition signatures, after protests, letters to Cooper Union, visits from Michael Moore, banner book-buying weekends, and celebrations of great success, St. Mark's Bookshop is back on the ropes.
Reports Publishers Weekly today:
"'We’re hanging in there, barely,' says co-owner Bob Contant. 'It’s a difficult April. Traffic is down. Without an increase, we can’t rebuild our inventory. We’re 20% short of where we need to be.' The store is on hold with a number of publishers, including Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Perseus, for relatively small sums between $500 and $2,5000. "It’s a catch 22," says Contant. 'We can’t buy more books. Up until this month we thought we were out of the woods.'
A few landlords have come forward offering the store lower rent, but moving would be costly and the store’s business credit cards are already maxed out. 'We would like to stay where we are, even at the high rent,' says Contant, 'unless an angel comes along.'
What would help, he says, is if everyone who signed the petition came in or called in and bought a book."
We've had two great "Buy A Book" weekends, and I encourage you all to visit the store again this weekend to buy some books--and keep buying books. But in this anti-book era, in this iZombie culture, what St. Mark's Bookshop needs most is a powerful new business plan--something that will sustain them in the long run, something that will keep attracting book buyers, day after day.
In Brooklyn, bookstores like Word and Greenlight are thriving in this e-book economy. What's their secret? I'm calling on them to step forward and offer their assistance and know-how to St. Mark's Books. I'm calling on the owners of St. Mark's Bookshop to follow their example and make the vital changes necessary to stay afloat. I'm calling on successful authors to show up with donations in hand.
We need St. Mark's Bookshop--now and for years to come. But it's going to take a village.
*UPDATE: #cashmob St. Mark's Bookshop, Sunday April 15, at 1:00 pm. Spend $15 on a book. Spend your tax refund! Then go drink at INTERNATIONAL BAR. Please re-tweet...spread the word.
Also: Join the bookshop's Facebook page and follow their Twitter.