Friday, May 1, 2015

Penn Books


Just in March, I reported that Penn Books was struggling, but still managing to survive. Now we hear they've been forced to shutter.

Mindy writes: "Just stopped into Penn Books tonight on my way to the opera and found bare shelves... They'll be gone by the end of the week."

Penn Books was started three generations ago, in the original Penn Station, in 1962. They survived the destruction of Penn Station. They survived citywide fiscal crises. They even outlasted Borders. Business was still bustling. But they could not afford the rent hikes.

Landlord Vornado started pushing out businesses in 2014, according to Crain's. Now they're revamping Penn Station and the area around it.

In the Wall St. Journal, Vornado's Chief Executive said earlier this month, “There is no reason that we cannot achieve very, very substantial rising rents in Penn Plaza—very substantial, enormous--with a little TLC."

Tender. Loving. Care.

Penn Books
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Bowery Boogie said...

Thought he had renegotiated a deal with the landlord?

lisekimhorton said...

Craig and his staff and his wife, and his father before him, have been my bookish pals for literally, 30 years. I've spent many a buck there, and usually stop by every day. I knew the satellite store had closed, but hadn't been through that section in a couple of weeks. Hopefully they'll still be there tonight so I can stop by to say goodbye!!!! So very sad.

sam_the_man said...

Hey, what's that? Something interesting and useful? Fuck you, get out.

Mark said...


I suppose this is the long shadow of the Hudson Yard projects looming eastward.

Unknown said...

I am sad to say that I have never been to your store Craig, because I live in Chelsea, and only have 'moved through' Penn Station 'on my way.' But because I have been actively following Jerimiah's website recently, I received the post, and heard your interview, and I share your kind of life history. I hope to be able to stop by before you close. I hope there will be a reincarnation somewhere else. Warmly, JC

EVQP said...

Vornado the Tornado, wrecking lives around them. May they, along with every other soulless greedy landlord, rot in hell.

Caleo said...

I visited this wonderful bookshop nearly everyday when I worked in the area back in 2002-2003.
I loved this little nook surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the station and people going to and from the trains.
This is truly sad, and... I can't think of anything else to say that would matter, other than this sucks badly.
Not just another bookstore, and a busy one at that, but a multi generational establishment.
A pox on Vornado and the fools that work there.

Anonymous said...

How can you not have a bookstore in a train station?!?!? This town is so over it's not even sad & depressing anymore it's just mind-boggling.

Dave - everywhere said...

I'm in Penn Station twice a day on the Long Island Railroad and I have bought my fair share of books at Penn Books. This shop is the victim of two forces - one, the upscaling of Penn Station. Vornado and the MTA want to upscale the "food court" (if you can call it that)into an "experience" similar to the food court at Grand Central. If you have been in Penn Station any time in the last two months at the LIRR level, you have seen the closing of the string of vendors adjacent to Penn Books. I was surprised that the store wasn't closed then, since I'm sure that the Chipotle or some other chain eatery will want the space. The other issue is that the store is badly placed. The LIRR concourse is buried in Penn Station so Jersey Transit and AMTRACK passengers have no visibility to it. Since the LIRR concourse has all the charm of a crowded dungeon, no one except LIRR riders goes down there, unless you are getting on or off the subway at 34th St., - no likely to be interested in picking up something to read.

I thought their business would pick up when the Borders in Penn Plaza closed a couple of years ago but the landlord has filled Penn Station with Hudson News stands which sell discounted books and magazines.