Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Think Less

Barnes & Noble is removing its stores from Queens, including a location in Forest Hills that preservationists tried to save. It's ironic to fight for a chain, but the neighborhood is otherwise a bookstore desert. And what's coming to replace it? A Target.

Meanwhile, on Fifth Avenue and 18th Street, the flagship Barnes & Noble bookstore (since 1932 and closed in 2014) has been completely transformed into a Banana Republic.



The plaque on the outside wall ("Founded 1873") has been pried off, leaving a shadowy scar on the masonry.

Inside, a message for all who might still think books have value: THINK LESS.



(I took this picture awhile ago, so it may not be there anymore. It was there when they opened.)


11 comments:

M. Heinz said...

Less indeed....

James said...

The Idiocracy progression is a pace.
I happened upon the scene of the Barnes & Noble historic plaque removal in January of 2014 - a most solemn occasion. I thought back to memories of 18th & 5th over the years, when there were two B&N's on opposite sides of the avenue. The older store was the great, original, textbook store - a Manhattan landmark for those who knew what it was. Years earlier, like many college students, had I received Barnes & Noble catalogs whose return address was that very place on 5th Avenue. This reminds me of the couture replacement of Scribner's historic store further up the avenue. At least there, someone made an attempt to preserve the fact that books had been sold there once, when people were more encouraged to use their minds - certainly via the mainstream marketing machine.
http://steeber.com/GenWeb/BarnesNobleClosingPairJan2014.jpg

John K. Friedman said...

There's a joke in there somewhere: a bookstore being replaced by a banana republic . . . I just haven't sussed it out yet.

Tal Hartsfeld said...

Promoting unbridled ephemeralism and capriciousness as the new "norm".
Ideal ethos for a "face value" minded society.

esquared™ said...

Was hoping for a Starbucks that offers "Full Body" Latte to have opened there. Patience, you must have, young padawan.

Richard Federico said...

Remember when suburbanites wished they had the conveniences and unique variety a city offered? Well it seems the city folk now have all the ubiquitous made in china variety and conveniences of that in the suburbs. A Target?!?! Sheesh!

Joe Bearnickel said...

The problem is that bookstores like this cannot compete against the advancement of e-books on phones and other devices.

S said...

Surprisingly even the B&N near St. John's University on Union Tpke and Utopia (!) Pkwy is closed. There's no demand for books anywhere anymore.

John K said...

Book sales are not plummeting, and hardcover books have stabilized against ebooks, growing 2.4% last year.

One of the major problems is online retailers like the behemoth Amazon, whose horrendous labor practices have been recently decried once again. Every time you buy a book from Amazon, you're probably helping to put a brick-and-mortar bookstore in the grave. Amazon also is probably helping to put former retail giant Barnes & Noble under ice.

Another is the high cost of real estate in New York City, and outsized rents that most bookstores cannot hope to meet, unless they own the building, in which case they may be more likely to sell rather than list along, at least if they follow the current capitalist logic.

Lastly, why read when you can endlessly post to Instagram, click and send YouTube links to others, churn up your own or some else's rage or humiliation on Twitter, listen to Spotify and Soundcloud and never take your earbuds out of your ears, and trawl your Facebook and Tumblr feeds to see what curated images and posts others have put together that make you feel inferior, superior or indifferent to your many thousands of "friends"?

No need to burn books at this point, as Fahrenheit 451 predicted. Instead, you can stare at your screens, think less and shop more, that is, if you're lucky enough to be rich in this grotesquely unequal economy and society.

Karl Letcher said...

By "live" they mean "buy."

Michael Shorris said...

I genuinely gasped at the "Think Less" inside. How appalling and how accurate.