New York is losing yet another bookshop, thanks to out-of-control rent.
After 36 years in business on the corner of 35th and Madison, the Complete Traveller book shop, and Antiquarian Books Too, is closing its doors December 31. The rent is too damn high--and getting higher.
I talked with manager Mike Durell, who said, "The lease is up and the landlord wants to jack up the rent," which is already "exorbitant."
So the shop will be no more--except online, where you can find them at CT Rare Books.
Browsing through the Complete Traveller is a voyage in itself, as you move from city to city, and country to country along the shelves. One wall is dedicated to Baedeker guides, all bound in red. They also have Furniture, Fashion, Fiction, and a whole section on "Gone With the Wind."
Years ago, I found a beautiful old guide to New York City's zoos and aquariums. This time, in a "NYC Ephemera" binder, I found a treasure trove of documents from the Cream-O Specialty Sales Co. of Brooklyn, specializing in "quality peanut butter sandwiches and assorted cookies for the nation."
If you love old books about the city, check it out before they're gone. They've got some WPA guides, and a great looking "Street Guide to Brooklyn," from maybe the 30s or 40s. They also have a first edition of Fran Lebowitz's "Metropolitan Life."
Book browsing is such a physical experience. The sights and smells, the feel of the paper in your hands, all of it is important, enlivening, real. And we're losing it. More and more every day.
Something must be done.
Mr. Durell asks me to put out the word to anyone who's hiring. He needs a new job. He knows books, but he says he can do pretty much anything--he's also a freelance writer, an actor, and a licensed New York City tour guide. Check out his website here.
And, finally, the book shop's farewell note:
We will be closing our store at the end of the year! We have been at the corner of Madison Avenue and 35th Street for over 30 amazing years and we would like to thank you for your patronage! Throughout the years we made friends with so many customers from NYC and all around the world.
We hope you can visit us before we go, either online or in our store: It is not too late for Christmas shopping and delivery before Christmas is still guaranteed!
We are happy to report that our online store will remain open.
Arnold Greenberg and Staff