Wednesday, September 11, 2013

City Slicker?

In 2012, I was sorry to learn that the midtown Hagstrom store - the last one left in the city - had quietly closed two years earlier. Hagstrom was taken over by the Kappa Map Group and now you can only order your 5 Borough street maps (large and small) online. Sad, sad. This week I was tidying a drawer of old brochures, museum guides & maps & found a not-that-old Hagstrom City Slicker Greenwich Village Guide, a small laminated downtown map I picked up off the street a few years back. I think it's from 96? I don't think I've ever used it, though actually it's quite a handy size. On back of the map there's a tourist-guide index of restaurants, nightlife, galleries etc. and a list of bookstores is included. It's hardly comprehensive, but there are some classics in there. Let's see which ones are left.

B. Dalton 396 Sixth (W. 8th) - later Barnes & Noble, which closed in late 2012

Barnes & Noble 4 Astor Place – closed 2007

Biography Book Shop 400 Bleecker St. – relocated to 266 Bleecker as bookbook in 2010

Dover Publications 180 Varick St. (King St.) (bookstore already gone by 1983 I think)

East West Books 78 Fifth Avenue (14th St.) closed 2010

Forbidden Planet (E. 13th St.) moved to 832 Broadway in 2012 -

Hudson News 753 Broadway (E. 8th) - closed

Mercer Street Books 206 Mercer St. (Bleecker)

N.Y.U. Book Center 18 Washington Place (Greene St.) – relocated to 726 Broadway

Oscar Wilde Bookshop 15 Christopher St. (Gay St.) – closed 2009

Pageant Books 114 W. Houston (Sullivan St.) – closed in 1999, to become an online store

Pathfinder Bookstore 214 Avenue A (E. 13th) - closed

Printed Matter 77 Wooster St. (Spring St.) – moved to 195 Tenth Avenue in 2005

Rizzoli 454 W. Broadway (Prince St.) - closed

Saint Marks Books 31 Third Ave. (E. 9th)

Shakespeare & Company 716 Broadway (Washington Pl.)

Spring St. Books 169 Spring St. – closed (1999?)

Strand 828 Broadway (E 12th St.)

Village Comics 214 Sullivan St. (Bleecker) – closed

(I wasn't sure about exact closure dates for several of these)

Happily, new independent stores continue to open, but not enough to match the ones falling away. A consequence of changing reading habits, obviously, but the bookstores aren't helped, like many other small businesses,  by the pressures of crippling rents.  Along with bookstore decline, add library endangerment: our city fathers' rush to sell off library real estate, cut the numbers of books on library shelves, & even make that noble stock figure, the school librarian, a redundant one. Slicker indeed. Let's hope our next mayor cares more for our city's readers than Mr. B.  

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