30 May 2009

Institution of High Learning Shuts Down Book Shop

Machiavelli never had the chutzpah displayed regularly by NYU and Columbia, the two universities that basically own this town and, wearing a mask of virtue and higher learning, raze culture wherever they go in the name of profit.

Columbia's latest crime: the stomping of a neighborhood book store which has served Morningside Heights for 50 years. Columbia is landlord to Morningside Bookshop. Owners Peter Soter and his wife, Amelia Linden, have been forced to close, as they owe $158,000 in back rent.

Now $158,000 is not nothing—to a small book shop. It is, however, next to nothing to a money-making behemoth like Columbia. A spokesman for Columbia said, "We did everything we could to help them." But is that actually honest? In recent years, through an abuse of eminent domain, the City has helped claim for the university millions upon millions of dollars worth of property. In exchange, couldn't the school give a little something back to the community? How about forgiving that rent? How about not charging them so high a monthly rent in the first place? About 50 neighbors also have offered Mr. Soter at least $68,000 in unsolicited donations to help pay the rent to keep the store open. But Columbia can't do anything in terms of money?



Anonymous said...

It's a tough case. According to the account in the Times, the store is a hopeless money-loser, and keeping it open any longer is just a case of throwing good money after bad. On the other hand, Columbia is probably not going to have an easy time finding another tenant.


Anonymous said...

When the Strand bookstore leaves
4th avenue (nyc) then I must leave also.So far all well there.

hollarback said...

Reminds me of what happened to the Bottom Line and the Palladium due to NYU "doing all they could" to help.

It reminds me of loan sharks. There is no way for the small guy to keep their head above water.

Anonymous said...

$158,000 is not nothing to Columbia. Money is still money. If Columbia wanted to lose money on a bookstore, they'd open their own. (Oh, wait...)

Seriously though, that place was never going to make money. It was too small, didn't specialize and wasn't a hangout destination. You have to have a reason to go to a bookstore these days, as much as it pains me to write that. Otherwise, you might as well get it via Amazon or ebay.

I concur that so long as The Strand remains, all is well enough.

Anonymous said...

Columbia should move upstate becase it cynically supports supertition and freedom of bigotry by backing Hillary vs Obama, Bloomberg vs Thompson and Cuomo vs Paterson. They should stop walking all over us.