[UPDATE: They worked out an agreement. Hooray!]
This just in, from the Cooper Square Committee, who are fighting to save St Mark's Bookshop:
A Board committee is meeting on Monday to decide if they will reduce St Mark's Bookshop's $20,000/month rent by $5,000. Thousands of emails or calls will influence the decision.
Tell the President to reduce the bookshop rent to $15,000 a month until the economy improves.
Every little bit helps! Here is the email I just sent off; feel free to copy or modify it:
|from||lauren elkin xxx.com|
|date||Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 3:37 PM|
|subject||Please reduce St Mark's Bookshop's rent to $15,000…|
…at least until the economy improves!
I'm a native New Yorker who moved to Paris at a time when very few American bookshops were managing to survive the onslaught of the big chains and the homogenization of reading habits (when people still read at all). It means a lot to me to know that there are still a few shops left in New York for whom books are not a product like any other, but the repository of what we know about the world and ourselves. Books that are written, published, and sold with the idea of exploring the human condition, not promoting someone's bottom line, need to be supported.
Here in France, a fixed-price book law was implemented in 1981 that prevents bookstores from underselling one another, competing for the lowest price. In 2007, the French government implemented subsidies to help independent bookstores which met certain criteria.
In the US, we have no fixed-price book law, and the idea of the government subsidizing bookstores is laughable. It's up to local businesses and landowners to do the subsidizing. Please do your part.
And here's the piece I published in Five Dials on bookselling in France, and how those subsidies I mentioned actually work.