Bankstreet Bookstore, one of the last independent booksellers on the Upper West Side, is in danger of closing because its lease runs out in early 2015 and Bankstreet College’s board has recommended that they not renew it.

The problem is that rent is up considerably, but sales aren’t, according to Shelf Awareness, a website that covers the book business.

College president Elizabeth Dickey wrote in a letter that the bookstore’s “sales remain flat and revenues overall had declined 7% over the last decade, while the rent for the store, located on the southwest corner of Broadway and West 112th Street, had grown by 56%, and operating losses had ‘increased significantly.'”

“The Board of Trustees recommended that the college not renew its lease and continue to ‘explore other possible locations in the general area” and “e-commerce models should there be no suitable and affordable space available.'”

“Affordable space” on the Upper West Side, of course, is as plentiful as flamingos in Alaska.

Concern about the store had first been raised on twitter by New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul, who wrote on Wedneaday “I can’t be the only person on twitter distressed to learn that Bank Street Bookstore’s lease runs out next year and isn’t being renewed.” She had been told by a staff member.

The Bankstreet Bookstore opened in 1970, originally inside the college, before moving to its 112th street spot. It ‘s known for its outstanding collection of children’s books and its friendly, knowledgeable staff. The store holds lots of events, which we tend to list on our calendar. This Saturday it’s participating in Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day.

There’s no campaign that we know of to save the store yet (news literally just broke), but we’ll keep following it. Please let us know if you hear anything. The store’s Facebook page may also be a good place to check for updates.

In the meantime, check out the store’s holiday gift guide. You can buy items from Bankstreet online or in the store.

Photo via Bankstreet Facebook page.

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 11 comments | permalink
    1. Bruce Bernstein says:

      this would be another huge loss to omniverous UWS gentrification. isn’t it time we start re-looking at a Ruth Messinger idea from the 1980s: commercial rent control?

    2. westSider says:


    3. PRL212 says:

      Double no!

    4. denton says:

      triple no. Just buy books there, it seems no one else is.

    5. Sami Beth Cohen says:

      I love this place. They have really wonderful staff and an amazing selection of educational books that I have used for countless lesson plans. What a shame. Getting so sick of the local spots getting the shaft.

    6. UWS-worker says:

      Actually lots of folks still shop at Bank Street Bookstore, but it’s not easy for specialty stores to break even when commercial rents are so high. Banks and restaurants and jewelry stores and chain drugstores will always push out lower-profit-per-square-foot businesses like bookstores, unless the bookstores have community support. If you shop at Bank Street, shop there a little more. If you have never shopped there, check it out. If you go there all the time for events but seldom buy anything, consider a small purchase every time you enter the store. If you buy books online from Amazon, try buying from this local store and save money on shipping.

    7. Morningside says:

      Columbia should offer the book store one of their storefronts at a good price. Don’t their TC students benefit from this store too?

    8. stop going. says:

      Just stop going. I’ve stop patronizing every big box national brand store in my Lincoln square hood. I’m just one guy, but if everyone stops going, they will go away. THey have no interest in paying a ton for a money losing storefront.

    9. NikFromNYC says:

      See that bank? It used to be old world Moon Palace until that girly bookstore decided to force them out with a promise of expanding, but then they expanded up instead of South, after the fact. They have no serious science books for boys, upstairs, just junk science environmentalism, you know Global Warming crap, nothing about critical thinking, whatsoever.

    10. Ellen Goldberg says:

      I always shop at Bank St. Bookstore. They are always so helpful. I have found books for special children, for special situations. All the children, and there are so many I buy for, have known for years the wrapping paper Bank St. Bookstore uses. Oh, they say, it’s from Aunt Ellen. They know it’s a book or a game from me. I just sent 3 books to children in Montreal. Their mother, who went to Columbia U. said every time she sees the wonderful books I send, she wants to run down to the store herself. They always go to Bank St. Bookstore when they are visiting NYC.I would hope they would remain a staple of the neighborhood. I would miss them so much.

    11. Mary says:

      This is simply awful. As a a parent and as an an educator I am totally appalled There is such a wealth of wonderful, rare, beautifully illustrated children’s books out there, but if you go into Barnes and Noble all you see are the bestsellers and no one who works there knows anything about children’s literature. Not so at Bank Street. The people who work there know children’s books and clearly love children’s books. I can spend hours just looking through their shelves. I can’t tell you how distraught this makes me. Is there anything that can be done to stop this?