Even though the petition that Frances Goldin, cofounder of the Cooper Square Committee, and CSC board chair Joyce Ravitz circulated last fall to save St. Mark’s Bookshop in New York City, gathered 44,000 signatures (closer to 44,500 as of this week) and helped pressure landlord Cooper Union to give the bookstore a rent reduction for 2012, St. Mark’s is still in trouble.
"We’re hanging in there, barely," says co-owner Bob Contant. "It’s a difficult April. Traffic is down. Without an increase, we can’t rebuild our inventory. We’re 20% short of where we need to be." The store is on hold with a number of publishers, including Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Perseus, for relatively small sums between $500 and $2,5000. "It’s a catch 22," says Contant. "We can’t buy more books. Up until this month we thought we were out of the woods."
A few landlords have come forward offering the store lower rent, but moving would be costly and the store’s business credit cards are already maxed out. “We would like to stay where we are, even at the high rent,” says Contant, "unless an angel comes along."
What would help, he says, is if everyone who signed the petition came in or called in and bought a book. He’s drafting an appeal, which should go out soon.