Either that time machine I stepped into last week actually worked or the universe is playing some sort of trick: a bookstore owner is actually planning to open a new book store on the Upper West Side.
Book Culture plans to open a new store on Columbus Avenue between 81st and 82nd streets in the former home of antique store Olde Good Things. The good news comes from Linda Alexander of the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District and other sources who know the plans. DNAinfo reported last week that the lease went for $35,000 a month, according to brokers at Walker Malloy.
Book Culture already has two locations in Morningside Heights, on 112th and 114th streets. The store sells new and used books, and buys used books. It’s an independent shop where employees write their recommendations on cards next to their favorite books.
The shop made news earlier this year when four employees were fired after attempting to form a union — the owners said that they were managers and could not be in a union — but those employees have been rehired and the owners have recognized the union.
For decades, bookstores have steadily been disappearing from the Upper West Side amid rising rents and competition from box stores like Barnes & Noble and online companies like Amazon.com. Nora Ephron even wrote a movie about it. Even beloved Bank Street Books is planning to move because of surging rents. (A reader points out that the space where Book Culture is planning to open once held legendary UWS store Endicott Books.)
The closing of Barnes & Noble and Borders a few years ago meant that there were no bookstores (aside from Juiliard’s) below 80th street. Among the few remaining book stores are Westsider Books on Broadway and 80th and Barnes & Noble on Broadway and 82nd.
In March the owner of McNally Jackson Books downtown told the Times she wanted to open a store in the neighborhood, but couldn’t possibly have made the rent. “They were unsustainable,” Ms. McNally said. “Small spaces for $40,000 or more each month. It was so disheartening.”
It’s not clear when Book Culture will open — the owner was on vacation.