“There are too many good bookstores in Brooklyn,” Bob Contant said. Contant is one of two co-owners of St. Mark’s Bookshop, the embattled last independent bookstore standing in the East Village. He was explaining to me why he wouldn’t consider a move to what’s generally deemed New York’s most literary borough. “They don’t need another one. What we’ve always focused on in terms of subjects areas and specialties, it’s really in the East Village. We have an anarchist section, which most stores don’t. There’s still remnants of politics and poetry — we focus on both. There’s still a home for that here.”

But that home is in crisis, and has been for two and a half years. The problems began in the fall of 2011, when news spread that the bookstore — beloved for its literary and artistic offerings, which often leans towards the obscure, esoteric, and DIY — was struggling to pay its $20,000/month rent. The bookstore approached its landlord, Cooper Union, asking for a $5,000 reduction, but the school refused. A petition was circulated, garnering more than 44,000 signatures, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer stepped in to mediate. By the end of that year, St. Mark’s had a $5,000 monthly rent reduction and $7,500 in debt forgiven by the school. The bookstore, the literary community it represents, even Stringer, celebrated. “Every time we save a local bookstore we save a local community,” the borough president said at the time.

Read the full article at Hyperallergic.

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