book culture1
The stacks at Book Culture on 114th street.

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 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.

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 21 comments | permalink
    1. Violet says:

      So, they are opening to where there will now be three bookstores between 80th-82nd? That’s strange. Maybe the start of a book “district”?

      • B.W. says:

        What are you talking about?!! There aren’t any other bookstores on Columbus. Are you hallucinating?

        • George says:

          there’s that used bookstore on Broadway bet. 81st/82nd that was featured in a recent Woody Allen film

        • Christina says:

          There may not be any bookstores on Columbus but there certainly is a Barnes and Noble on 82nd and Broadway! We need a bookstore in the 60’s or lower 70’s on Broadway. Since Barnes and Noble left 66th St. and B’way there are no bookstores in the neighborhood!

          • Jeff says:

            There’s also Westsider Records on 72nd between Broadway & West End. As name suggests, it specializes in vinyl, but there’s a big wall of used books as well.

    2. Debbra Stanton says:

      You forgot to mention that there here was a wonderful bookstore in this exact same spot when we moved here in 1987….Endicott Books.

      • Elaine Felhandler says:

        Exactly what I was going to say. I used to love going in there and browsing – Endicott had great employee reviews; thanks to them I discovered Roberston Davies! I’m looking forward to browsing again.

    3. Aunt Renie says:

      Yippee! It’s not another bank, drugstore or Starbucks. Thank you bookstore people. I wish you the best.

    4. Cara says:

      I have a feeling this isn’t going to happen.

    5. shirley says:

      I will continue to support B&N because it too is an endangered species and has been providing good service to this neighborhood.

    6. Wendy says:

      Sounds great! I lived on top of Gryphon Books at its old location.

      • Steve B says:

        Besides Endicott Books — which actually closed before B&N moved in if I remember correctly — in the ’90s, the big B&N at Bwy and 82nd really did have a role in killing off the bookstores that were in the neighborhood.

        There was Shakespeare’s at 81st and Broadway where the Essentials Plus is now (see the movie Crossing Delancey for great shots of the old Shakespeare’s 2nd floor). And there was Eeyore’s Books for Children at 79th and Broadway that closed in 1993.

        So if Book Culture opens a branch in the old Endicott Books space (the building is actually called The Endicott), then yippee!

        I can be annoyed at B&N but still, the whole book business has changed so much it is hard to “blame” anyone from this distance. Still, it’ll be nice not to have to go to Morningside Heights or to the UES or downtown (or Maine!) for a well-curated selection of books to buy.

    7. Carol Anshien says:

      Interesting that this newest proposed book store is only 2 blocks east of the Broadway B&N, and one block east of the St.Agnes Branch of the NY Public Library. Our UW neighborhood above 96th Street could probably use a bookstore for new and used books in the Columbus Square “Mall” between 97th and 100th Street on Columbus Avenue. (The Bloomingdale Branch Library is on 100th Street.) But those big box stores are just too expensive, right?

      • Drago says:

        Borders had been planning to open a new store in that “mall” on Columbus but then they went out of business before they could proceed.

    8. robert says:

      I’m a “readaholic” but they will not last. Their store on 112th street only does well because a select group of Columbia Profs have their students go there to order their books for classes, rather than having them available at the campus bookstore. The prices on the text books there are really not much cheaper than at the Columbia bookstore, but the UWS Prof.’s feel better. Also they don’t discount much at all. Why should I pay $35 at their new store when I can walk 2 blocks over to Broadway and get it for $27.50, or even better go to the Strand and get it brand new for $17.50.
      There is a reason why Eyore’s books close when B&N came in. That kids bookstores story was the basis for the movie You’ve Got Mail.

    9. Huh? says:

      When did Olde Good Things close? I was three three weeks ago!

      (Best of luck to the bookshop!)

    10. 95 In The Shade says:

      This makes me wonder if that B&N is on the way out.

      • robert says:

        When they moved to their current location from across the street I believe they bought the building or at least took a very long lease. There were several write ups about in the times, about how it had been a dance studio upstairs and a Schraffs ice cream parlor downstairs

    11. Lucien Desar says:

      I am sorry, I think you had a typo in your article. Shouldn’t it read “UWS Getting a New Bank Branch Opening Up.” ? Seriously, this is great news but at $35K a month they would have to sell close to $1,400 a day just to make a profit (about 93 books at $15 each). I hope they make it. I’ve missed the B&N that closed on 66th as well as the Borders at Columbus Circle. Nothing can replace browsing and discovering new books than an actual physical bookstore.

      • Lucas says:

        It’s much more challenging than that! Your math is right but your assumptions are wrong. In order to pay the $35,000 lease they would need to make $35,000 in profit, not just in revenue/sales. If they have a 50% profit margin , they would need to sell $70,000 worth of books per month JUST to pay the rent. And that’s before taxes!