Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Simply disappear

And—tremendous sigh—speaking of New York ghosts...

This headline is too cutesy for me, but as soon as I saw it, the dread hit: "Many Suspects Seen in the Death of a Mystery Bookstore."

I knew it would be about Murder Ink and Ivy's Books, two stores joined at the hip on upper Broadway. This civilized oasis will be going out of business on December 31. Amazingly, this tidbit I wrote for the PTSNBN's holiday shopping guide a million years ago still exists:

The genteel Ivy's Books and Curiosities mingles new and used titles on the same shelves in healthy heterogeneity. When you realize that your friends don't read anymore, get them the variations on the classic theme book, the mottled covers decorated with pages from casting books or reproductions of Spanish movie posters. Other stocking stuffers include paper model kits, flip books, and slim, vintage recipe books from the '50s and '60s. Isn't it time your roommate relearned The ABC of Chafing Dish Cookery?

I go to—went to—Ivy's a lot, generally at least looking at the bargain cart parked outside, if I was walking uptown. I was in there twice this week, and indeed made a purchase yesterday afternoon, oblivious to its impending demise. The Times article mentions that the rent goes up "5 percent a year and currently runs $18,000 a month." Even with a parade of loyal customers, how can a small bookstore survive? Now, between the Barnes & Noble on 82nd to the three (four?) stores around Columbia (Labyrinth, et al.), there's nothing on the Upper West Side for bibliophiles—a mile and a half stretch.

I haven't even commented on Coliseum Books, which is also closing at the end of this year (my epitaph, written for the PTSNBN upon the occasion of the closing of the former Columbus Circle location, was a little premature, but basically holds true—click through at "Alberto Angelo" here). Coliseum owner George Leibson says, "I believe we will simply disappear."

And what is there to say about Gotham Book Mart? I knew it was in trouble, but didn't read that it had actually closed—until I came across a mention in this piece about the Finnegans Wake Society (which used to make its home there)...

UPDATE: $18,000 seems to be the magic figure—see "La Rosita to close by 2007," in the Columbia Spectator.


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