25 January 2010

My Favorite Book Store to Close

This morning, JVNY brings us the very depressing news that Skyline Books, my absolute favorite used book store in the City for the last 20 years, will close its doors for good on Jan. 31.

I discovered Skyline in 1990, when I worked in the Flatiron District at a terrible magazine called Theatre Crafts run by a terrible person (but that's another story). I'd roam down W. 18th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues to relieve my misery. At the time, the block was earning a reputation as a new Booksellers Row in Manhattan. In addition to Skyline, there was Academy Books, Book-friends Cafe and both a new Barnes & Noble and B&N used-book annex at the corner. But I liked Skyline the best. The place was snug and a bit ramshackle, and felt like a used book store (unlike B&N); the staff was friendly (unlike Academy); and it wasn't a cafe pretending to be a book store (unlike Bookfriends). Also, Skyline had a great selection and seems secretly honed in on my tastes. They almost always had the book I was looking for. Furthermore, their prices were fair.

Skyline manage to survive the rough years in the early 1990s, when new Barnes & Nobles were picking off indy shops left and right. Sad to see it go. I real loss. They're having a big sale through the end of the month. Go take a last look


Francis Morrone said...

I agree it's a terrible loss. Just a couple of points: the B & N at 18th St. wasn't new at that time. In fact, it's the original B & N store and is very, very old. And I don't think B & N had an impact on Skyline. After all, Skyline outlasted B & N's used-book annex. It's the Internet--AbeBooks and Amazon--that has killed used bookstores.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

I agree that the Internet did it's share of killing, but in the 1990s, B&N was responsible for quite a few book store deaths, both new and used.

And, yes, I know the 18th Street store was the original.

chris flash said...

I spoke with Rob the owner on Saturday. He named the internet as a culprit in killing small bookstores, but he has also been paying $8,000 a month in rent. His landlord now wants $12,000.

At these levels, a small business owner isn't working for himself any longer -- he's working for the benefit of others, and that is senseless.

I hope he'll find something in a good area for a decent rent so that he can relaunch Skyline.

Anonymous said...

So, you didn't like Books of Wonder? Still there.

-Andrew Porter