St. Mark's Bookshop

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St Marks Bookshop, closeup, in New York City

St. Mark's Bookshop was an independent book store, established in 1977 in New York City's East Village neighborhood. It was the oldest independent book store in Manhattan owned by the original owners. [1] The shop, run by proprietors Bob Contant and Terry McCoy, specialized in cultural and critical theory, graphic design, poetry, small presses, and film studies—what the New York Times called "neighborhood-appropriate literature".[1] It featured periodicals and journals, including foreign titles, and included a section on anarchists. The store was named after St. Mark's Place, where it was originally located. [2] St. Mark's closed on February 28, 2016. [3]


Past employees of St. Mark's Bookshop include artist Wade Guyton, poet Ron Kolm, and writer-performer Julie Klausner. [4] [5] Previous to founding St. Mark's Bookshop, owners Bob Contant and Terry McCoy both worked at 8th Street Books and also at East Side Books. [6]

Financial problems[edit]

St Marks Bookshop, showing the clearance sale in New York City

In 2011, St. Mark's Bookshop began to have financial problems, due to the high rent. An online petition, started by a patron of the establishment, asking that the store's landlord, Cooper Union, reduce the rent, garnered over 40,000 signatures. [7] [8] In August, 2012, they raised over $24,000 in an online funding drive. [9] Cooper Union had been beset by financial woes of its own. The school, which had historically been tuition-free, started charging tuition in the fall of 2014 to make up for lost endowment income. [10]

In May 2014, the store announced plans to move from 31 Third Avenue to a smaller space at 126 E. Third St; their new landlord was the New York City Housing Authority. [11] Declining sales over the years made the store unable to afford the rent at the Third Avenue location. [12] An auction was held to raise funds to cover moving expenses. [13]

Competitive pressure[edit]

St. Mark's Bookshop (10338890086).jpg

Independent bookstores have a long history in New York. Other examples include The Strand, Westsider, powerHouse, BookCourt, McNally Jackson, Shakespeare & Co, WORD, Longitude, Bluestockings, and Housing Works. [14] [15] These indie stores and small chains have been feeling competitive pressure from the larger chains, internet-based booksellers, and digital media. [16] In an attempt to be competitive with electronic media, St. Mark's and OR Books engaged in a joint venture where OR Books sold their electronic media via the St. Mark's website. [17]

Even some of the larger chains, such as Borders, have been unable to remain solvent in the face of competitive pressures from web-based stores and e-books. [18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Leland, John (14 May 2014). "St. Mark's Bookshop in East Village Signs Lease on New Location". New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  2. ^ Steinhauer, Jillian (10 February 2014). "Fighting for the Future of St. Mark's Bookshop". Hyperallergenic. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  3. ^ Calhoun, Ada (12 February 2016). "What Went Wrong at St. Mark's Bookshop". The New Yorker. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  4. ^ Vogel, Carol (27 September 2012). "Painting, Rebooted". New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  5. ^ Ruhling, Nancy (28 January 2014). "Astoria Characters: The Man Who Has His Way With Words". Huffington Post. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  6. ^ Ruhling, Nancy (12 August 2012). "Ten Reasons Why We Should Help St. Mark's Bookshop Survive". Karen the Small Press Librarian. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  7. ^ Stein, Lorin (5 October 2011). "Saving St. Mark's". The Paris review. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  8. ^ Mathias, Christopher (12 September 2011). "St. Mark's Bookshop Patron Starts Petition To Save Store From Closing". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  9. ^ Brown, Stephen Rex (14 August 2012). "Bookshop Meets Fundraising Goal, Not Out of Woods Yet". The Local / East Village. The New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  10. ^ Kaminer, Ariel (23 April 2013). "College Ends Free Tuition, and an Era". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  11. ^ Fung, Amanda (15 May 2014). "St. Mark's Bookshop's new home". Crains's New York Business. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  12. ^ Moss, Jeremiah. "St. Marks Books to E. 3rd St". Jeremiah's Vanishing New York. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  13. ^ Vilensky, Mike (4 December 2013). "Buy the Books, Save the Store". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  14. ^ Halford, Macy (12 September 2011). "Should We Fight To Save Indie Bookstores?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  15. ^ Marotta, Jenna. "Three Bookselling Institutions Get Ready For Their Next Chapters". Bedford + Bowery. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  16. ^ "The Future of Bookstores". Eco-Libris. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  17. ^ Teicher, Craig Morgan (7 December 2010). "OR Books Partners with St. Mark's Bookshop for E-Book Distribution". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  18. ^ Sanburn, Josh (19 July 2011). "5 Reasons Borders Went Out of Business (and What Will Take Its Place)". Time. Retrieved 18 May 2014.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°43′26″N 73°59′09″W / 40.72379°N 73.98585°W / 40.72379; -73.98585