Police confiscated several piles of books from bookseller Charlie Mysak, who has set up shop on West 68th Street and Columbus Avenue for more than a decade.  The confiscation occurred early Tuesday morning around 1 a.m., as about a dozen or so officers piled books into a van parked on 68th and Columbus.

“Ghostwriter”, our anonymous tipster, sent the photo above and the video below of the confiscation.

Police have been more assertive about enforcing laws prohibiting vendors from leaving unattended property on the street. This month, officers have confiscated thousands of books from other vendors on Broadway between 72nd and 74th Streets.

Mysak, who came to his book table around 11 a.m. Tuesday, was disappointed to find the spot completely empty.


“I think it’s kinda pathetic if you want to know the truth,” he said. “The idea that police manpower would be used to seize people’s livelihood is pathetic.”

Asked if he left his books unattended, Mysak responded “What’s the difference?” He said police don’t seem to bother other vendors, or confiscate other pieces of property left in public space.

“I’ve been here 20 years. You know what, I’m gonna outlast them,” he said as he puffed on a cigar and opened up a new table.

Locals have mixed opinions about the vendors, with some claiming they’re a nuisance – particularly the guys on Broadway – and others saying they’re part of the fabric of the neighborhood.

“It’s one of the things I feel like is home here,” said Daniel White, who walked by and noticed that the books were gone. “This is sad.”

Mysak left the following note on his table Tuesday afternoon:

Photo by Jessica Brockington. Click to enlarge.

NEWS | 89 comments | permalink
    1. JDP says:

      So, the guy walked away for (at least) 10 hours before realizing his books were gone and the law states someone has to be present at the table all times. Am I reading this correctly?

    2. Steve says:

      This is awesome… keep it coming!!!

    3. Jason says:

      Way to go NYC! Finally, some law and order in what is otherwise becoming a lawless city. Hopefully they’ll come to their senses and also repeal the legislation that decriminalized urinating in the street, but that’s wishful thinking. In the meantime, people selling merchandise without a license to do so on a street without a license to do so are being stopped. That’s the law. I wonder if all the folks who are upset about this would be equally upset if the person selling the merchandise was selling cigarettes. . .

      • dannyboy says:

        Equating books with cigarettes?

        You know cigarettes causes cancer, don’t you?

        What do you think reading causes?

    4. Mark says:

      Boo hoo for him.
      You leave stuff out on the sidewalk unattended, expect it will be gone when you return.

    5. Nelson says:

      In a day and age when the public is encouraged to report unattended bags and parcels, I guess it’s not a stretch to imagine that something dangerous could be tucked inside an unattended pile of wares (especially covered by a tarp). Maybe Police Intelligence knows something we don’t?

    6. Vera says:

      The guy has left it unattended for 20 year or more every night. It just so happens the police finally did something about it. It blocks the sidewalk making it harder and harder for people to get to their jobs subway, & family in the area. Finally!! Perhaps we should all just leave our businesses outside on the side walk, not pay rent, fall asleep while at work. Love it!

      • Diane says:

        Are the vegetable stands next? I love the book vendors. It’s part of what makes New York fun and interesting. They’re part of our fabric–just like those double-wide strollers that take up so much room on the sidewalk!

        • Jay says:

          Fruit carts require a permit. So, the two situations are not alike. I haven’t seen a fruit vendor stay out overnight either.

    7. happywithNYPDforonce says:

      Yay! it makes me feel uneasy to walk by large, often tarp-covered piles of crap that are unattended and hoping nothing harmful lurks there.

      Not sure why anyone thinks it’s okay for these vendors to not follow the (bare minimum) laws for selling books.

      Why they think they can store their crap on the street is beyond me. Imagine if I just starting filing junk on my curb, covering it, and expecting it to remain there week after week lol. Um, no.

    8. Kate says:

      Filthy pile of books left unattended all day removed from the sidewalk they were cluttering up.

      I don’t have a problem with this. It’s not like anyone buys those books and it’s not like he’s filling some niche the UWS desperately needs.

      • dannyboy says:

        “It’s not like anyone buys those books and it’s not like he’s filling some niche the UWS desperately needs.” -Kate

        I beg to differ.

    9. jezbel says:

      On the walk back from the movies the other evening my husband and realized that it was the first time we’ve ever walked past that part of Broadway without those nasty book tables. I’m not making a comment on the individuals who run them. Just saying the sidewalk was WIDE OPEN and it was lovely.

    10. ws says:

      The guy on Columbus Ave is really nasty, really rude. And a leech – I doubt he has paid one penny of taxes in the 20 years he’s operated.

    11. sam says:

      I know some people seem to love this guy, but I was wondering why the police were cracking down on the guys on Broadway and not him, when he’s the most egregious offender, spreading multiple tables down the block and just tying down a tarp each night, leaving everything unattended.

      Glad to see some more equal enforcement.

      • dannyboy says:

        Expanding the operation to get all books off the street?

        • sam says:

          just the ones that are breaking the rules. Which this guy has clearly done for years. There are clear rules about having ONE table, packing up your goods at night, and always having someone present. This guy had a half dozen tables, overflowing onto the ground, and would leave everything unattended just under a tarp every night. Maybe if you don’t need to walk past him every day you think it’s a quaint shopping experience, but he’s directly between my apartment and my folks’. unless I want to walk around an extra block simply to avoid the stink of his non-stop cigar smoking (which I’m sure the rent-paying wine store also adores), I have to go past him regularly if I want to run down the street to visit my parents (or do anything else in my neighborhood).

    12. Roxy says:

      This is also happening on the east side of Broadway between 111th and 112th streets. Multiple tables with crates, cardboard, plastic sheeting – so unsightly and disgraceful. Been there for months, 24/7 and it’s unattended. Called Dennis O’Donnell’s office and told to complain to 311. Filed two 311 complaints and nothing has happened. I don’t see it on the east side – Madison or 5th Avenue? I think not. Time for the city to end this blight on our neighborhood.

      • Mary says:

        The most egregious example is the guy on the west side of the street, near the subway entrance at 110th and Broadway. He basically just has piles of garbage and some books. I’ve never seen anyone buy a single item, yet somehow he is left to ply his so-called trade.

        • dannyboy says:

          EVERYONE’S claiming that they are suffering “the most egregious example”, so get in line.

      • lynn says:

        There’s a lot of it on 86th street, and 86th and 3rd in particular. Broadway and 72nd looks like heaven compared to East 86th.

      • Tea says:

        The law regading booksellers requires 1 table per vendor and attended at all times. The The seller at 111th amd Broadway has a motley assortment of 6-7 tables strung together in an long unbroken line with usually just 1 seller. Even in the daytime the books and tables look sloppy. At night it is covered with random pieces of cardboard on top of the tables and pieces of junk on top to hold the clear plastic covering down and is left unattended.

        Although Daniel O’Donnell lives a block away he is our state assembly member. A better person to contact is Mark Levine, our NYC council member. I called his office, 212-982-6814, and was told to call back with the 311
        complaint case number which I just did.

        It is front of the Duane Reade and blocks delivery. I am going to speak to the manager and see if they have complained.

    13. Big Earl says:

      Was wondering why this guy seemed to get a free pass. “What’s the difference?” Simple. In one case you’re breaking the law and the other you aren’t. And I’ll guess by him getting to work at the ripe ole time of 11am, he didn’t abide by the law. You had your time selling books illegally on the sidewalk. Times have changed. UWS is changing. Your time is up. Sorry, but it’s over.

    14. Gretchen says:

      So happy to hear that. For years, neighborhood residents have complained about this mess and it’s about time vendors abide by the actual laws, not the ones they like to make up for themselves. Our already overcrowded sidewalks belong to the public, not a bunch of scurvy vendors, who I’m sure are peddling more than literature…

    15. Well folks, it looks like this battle is over and we won. The police are going to enforce the law and people can complain all they like. I’m looking at you Dannyboy.:)

      Same thing with the bike stuff like the Citibike issues and bike lanes. Same thing with Fresh Direct. Same thing with the new addition to the Museum. Do I need to go on??

      It’s almost like kvetching on the WSR doesn’t get anything accomplished?!? Weird?!? Do you guys come down on the right side, or should I say victorious side, of anything??

      • Woody says:

        Kvetches don’t need to win. In fact, they thrive on kvetching and losing. It makes them stronger kvetches just waiting to be offended.

      • dannyboy says:

        It is clear that you want booksellers removed from sidewalks.


        • Is that CLEAR to you?? Well, let me explain a few things to you, slowly so you can understand…

          What is CLEAR is that we (the police, the community, etc) want the law enforced. Period. Just because they are homeless and their behavior isn’t objectionable to you doesn’t somehow let them disturb the peace and break the law. The law that is now finally being enforced as we are seeing.

          Actually, I love booksellers and books…in fact I just bought a beautiful coffee table book about a week ago from the lovely gentlemen who sell books on the east side of Broadway and 85th St. Some people follow the law, don’t harass my neighbors and don’t litter, smoke, drink, yell, urinate, etc.

          You might want to rethink your position on this issue now that you have actually been educated instead of just resorting to your predictable knee jerk response of elitism and oppression.

          Obviously, what is “CLEAR” to you isn’t always accurate. You might want to learn to do a more comprehensive analysis of things before you jump to your conclusions…which you seem to do a lot, and always in a contrarian and provocative way.

          Am I being CLEAR now??! oh, and one more thing, do you ever think anything that you don’t say??:)

          • Tea says:

            Now let me educate you. While it is legal to sell books on the steet there are some restrictions 1. One vendor per table. 2. No property – books and table – may left overnight on the sidewalk unattended.

          • dannyboy says:

            Hey Mr Coffee Table Book!

            Attacking with “instead of just resorting to your predictable knee jerk response of elitism and oppression.” is very ironic coming from the guy who wants to rid our streets of people that he finds undesirable.


            And your postscript:”oh, and one more thing, do you ever think anything that you don’t say??:)” – There’s plenty I’m thinking you deserve, that I’m not saying!

            • Really DannyBoy?!

              That’s the best you got?? You are not even going to try with…you know, actual arguments, facts, stuff like that??

              You’re not even going to make this fun or even the slightest bit challenging for me? I could have chewed you up and spit you out when I was a 1L decades ago. Too bad.

              I thought maybe you had some intellect behind all of your silly and angry comments. Apparently not so, for the record…YOU LOSE…again.:) Just like your buddies harassing our neighbors and disturbing the peace.

              Maybe instead of writing a silly little reply to every person on this site, which is annoying at best, you should just write one intelligent, well thought out comment per day or per article. You know, quality over quantity. Just a little tip pal…

            • dannyboy says:

              Needed to google your slang, “mr 1L”:

              “1L -Someone who might have been cool last year, but this year is consumed with talking about cases, grades, and a class rank that doesn’t exist yet.”

              That fits, so thanks for the admission. Source: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=1l

            • dannyboy says:

              Monk, Monk, and Monk, Esquires:

              Just working on my quantity with this little brief (or brief, little comment).

              I noted the lawyerly tough-guy tone in your retort. A little on edge. Do want to confess like real TV lawyers?

              Here’s the thing:Comment #20 may have set you off; I don’t know.

              Perhaps it was Comment #32.

              Come clean (that lawyer slang?)

        • Sean says:

          Put that in your Nook and read it.

    16. Tony Adams says:

      I live at 68th and Columbus. I don’t mind a book seller, but this guy’s smelly cigar and the perpetual heap of trash that covers his books when he is not there indicate his disdain for my neighborhood. Also, his inventory is getting bigger and bigger. If he reduced the number of books by 50%, and if he covered them with something neat and reasonably attractive, and if he would smoke elsewhere, I’d go to bat for his remaining.

      • dannyboy says:

        You’d invent additional conditions, I’m sure. Nice attempt at appearing “reasonable”.

    17. Alan says:

      I’ve lived at 68th and Columbus for almost 40 years, more than long enough to see the UWS lose nearly all its bookstores. As the UWS becomes ever more homogenized and chain-store ridden, removing this somewhat shabby outpost is still a loss for what was once a book- loving, tolerant neighborhood.

      • Alison says:

        I’m going to guess you’ve never bought a book from these filthy sellers’ tables.

      • Sam Katz says:

        As the former President of the 20th Precinct Community Council, I spent years working with law enforcement and the community to get these 24-hour-per-day book vendors to comply with the law. No one was saying they should not exist … we just wanted them to follow all the laws that other vendors do: one table, six feet long, on the curb, no trash, no mess, and gone at the end of the day. It started that way, and then deteriorated over the years into this 24-hour filthy mess taking up permanent residence on the public sidewalk. Not cool. I’m a book lover and a collector and a writer by profession, but the encampments on Broadway and Columbus had grown out of control. For years the police tried to help the community and respond to the complaints filed by the residents and businesses, but to no avail. It’s taken 25 years to get to this point. Let’s hope it lasts. As for “dannyboy” who is posting and posting here with his ridiculous Holocaust comparison (talk about offensive!) … listen dude: all anyone has to do is comply with sidewalk obstruction, safety, and sanitation laws. By comparison, there is a bookseller on Broadway near the Lincoln Plaza cinemas who has one small table and chair, and sells vintage paperbacks. He’s a collector, a bibliophile, and a perfect example of a vendor who follows all the rules and then some. Anyone can do that if they’re not a jerk. Kirk (Broadway) and Charlie (Columbus) just could not play by the rules no mater how many times they were warned. It’s very simple. It does not require a PhD or a law degree. Just common sense, respect for the community, and a modicum of cleanliness. The neighborhood has finally won and I hope it’s not temporary.

        • dannyboy says:

          Hey, Mr “former” President,

          Wrapping yourself in a flag of “I’m a book lover” is a bit manipulative, no?

          But I guess that it explains why you support “a bookseller on Broadway near the Lincoln Plaza cinemas”…he’s got just the books you covet as “a collector and a writer by profession”. Bit self-serving?

          But the money line is this “He’s a collector, a bibliophile, and a perfect example of a vendor who follows all the rules and then some. Anyone can do that if they’re not a jerk.” IS THIS YOUR ‘OBJECTIVE” WAY TO DETERMINE WHO STAYS AND WHO GOES? If he’s got what you want, you are good with that.

          Otherwise get rid of “jerks”! What’s up with that?

          P.S. You have mischaracterized me, but not so directly as calling someone a “Jerk”. Writing that “As for “dannyboy” who is posting and posting here with his ridiculous Holocaust comparison (talk about offensive!) … listen dude…”is TRULY MISCONSTRUED. I reposted Comments, that were originally OK with you, because they demanded the oustings and more: panhandlers, newspapers, the homeless…

          Next time, former president “and a writer by profession”, skip all this wordy stuff and go straight to your name-calling. You know, “Jerk” and “Dude”. It is obvious that is all you got to say, the rest was just filler.

    18. UWSsurfer says:

      Charlie’s a good guy with good books. Stop this harassment of our neighborhood book vendors!

    19. Mia says:

      Now we need to get rid of the panhandlers who sit with dogs exposing them to this heat in the direct sun. Especially that crew at 64 th and Broadway. I have seen 3 people rotate use of that spot with the same dog and same sign. They are all young and sit and read al day. The police tell me they have been called countless times and they always refuse services. They can’t even take the dog on days like today. I suspect they are not homeless (have tried talking to them and never get a straight answer) using the dog to garner sympathy. They refuse all offers of help per the local doorman and
      Police. Why waste resources? The outreach groups are already overextended. At least allow the authorities to get the dogs somewhere cool. Sadly, we can’t do better for the mentally ill homeless people or the animals. No one should be left out in this heat.

      • T says:

        I own a small business in NY and I feel that closing down the street vendors with no permits to be there,
        and not having to go through all the hassle the city
        puts me through just to keep a small business open
        is the right thing. If he wants to run his business on the
        public sidewalk, he should get a license from the city to do so, file and pay business taxes as all legitimate businesses do. The vegetable stands and street carts are all paying for permits to set up.
        I once tried to hand out postcards with a discount for first timers to come in on a nearby corner when I first opened up and was approached almost immediately telling me I needed a permit to do so …….. I think it is fair that
        the street vendors be held to the same rules as anyone struggling to keep a business open in this city.

      • UWS-er2 says:

        That’s a pet peeve of mine these young, all white, healthy looking (outside of all tats)males that sit there all day with there filthy signs, reading a book or some looking at THEIR PHONES and, what ceases to amaze me the schmucks that put money in their cups. Some of these clowns I’ve seen for over a year

      • dannyboy says:

        First they came for the booksellers. Then they came for the panhandlers. Then…

      • Maani says:


        Re the young “homeless” people, you are on the right track. Many (though not all) of them are young people who came for Occupy Wall Street and never left. When they realized that NYC’s panhandling laws are fairly lax, they simply “took up residence” on the streets (though I’m guessing some of them probably have actual places to sleep – friends’ couches, etc.). And they began getting dogs (because the majority of these young people did not come to NYC with dogs) when they realized that if they had a dog, they could avoid being “forced” into the shelter system. (I.e., in most cases, it IS a scam.) And, of course, the worst thing is that those young people who are not genuinely “homeless” are making it worse for those who are (because there ARE legitimately homeless youth on the streets). The whole situation is very sad and frustrating.

    20. T0M o'bRIEN says:


    21. David Collins says:

      There are laws prohibiting vendors from leaving unattended property on the street. All we are asking is that they abide by the law. Not sure that is too much to ask. That is what I am asked to do, so expect everyone to also comply. And if they don’t then authorities have all the right to enforce the law. Not sure where the issue is here. The vendors may not like the laws – I myself don’t like many laws either – but not liking a law or thinking it is a poorly written law does not give them or anyone the right to ignore the law.

      • Cato says:

        This is exactly right. There are great booksellers, with interesting and hard-to-find books, on the east side of Broadway between 85 and 86. Neat, clean, don’t hassle pedestrians, don’t consume half the sidewalk — AND they pack up every evening, and re-open every morning. Classic booksellers.

        The problem elsewhere is not that people are selling books, but that they are imposing on the use by everyone else of the public sidewalks, and then claiming large swaths of those sidewalks around the clock as their absolute right.

        • David Collins says:

          Absolutely, 100% agree.

          These guys are as far from professional as it comes.

    22. UWSHebrew says:

      I love buying books, but I like clear sidewalks better.

      • dannyboy says:

        Others like clear sidewalks but love buying books better.

        This is what makes NYC so great! No unilateral mandates issued here.

    23. Stuart says:

      I am surprised that the large majority of posters were happy the Columbus Ave book seller is gone, but the reverse was true for the guys on Broadway between 72 and 74 streets, who thought the police were being unfair by confiscating his books. What’s the difference?

    24. Momo Man says:

      This guy has great handwriting.

    25. cyro says:

      Happy to see all of them gone. The streets are not their personal shops. The unlicensed, permanent vendors do not own our sidewalks. Now let’s start removing those endless rows of free newspaper boxes!

    26. Derek says:

      “Back in the day this whole sidewalk would be filled with vintage books and magazines and record albums and you could buy them for next to nothing. I got some real treasures there, Judy at Carnegie Hall double-album for 3 bucks! At Christmas they used to sell Christmas trees and wreaths too, all up and down the streets. From table top ones to big 8 footers. Tucker Square down on 66th? They had a farmer’s market there with fresh breads and produce, pies and fruits. Right down on 70th there you could buy houseplants for next to nothing on Saturday mornings. They were kind of wilted and had seen better days, but if you had a green thumb you could see ’em back to life with just a little TLC.
      You don’t see that anymore, though. The cops chased them all out of here, said there were too many community complaints about over-crowded sidewalks. It was nice, though. Made the Upper West Side a special place to live.” – Future conversation between one generation and the next.

    27. ICUDoc says:

      This man was a nuisance. He would leave a car parked full of books in a space all day every day. He took up room on a crowded sidewalk. He had dirty, ripped tarps covering his books. Rats could be seen scurrying out of the piles at night. Good riddance!!!

    28. Carl says:

      I LOVE THIS. KEEP UP ENFORCING THE LAWS ON THE BOOKS! Take back our streets and sidewalks. Let civility reign!

    29. Che says:

      I’m an avid reader who has seen small independent bookshops disappear from UWS, our very literate and literary ‘hood. I love recycling books I’ve read but don’t need anymore. I pass this vendor and his merchandise frequently. He needs to change his marketing tactic: either pay someone to mind the books nightly like some fruit stands do; or unpack & repack a smaller, selected repertoire daily; or any other solution that keeps him within the confines of the law and hygiene (I wanted to peek at his wares for once, Monday, but my subconscious cried “bedbugs”). The unsightliness is also attractive to the human invader with crime in mind. NYPD sees a security risk; they’re right: these are wicked times.

      • dannyboy says:

        “NYPD sees a security risk; they’re right: these are wicked times.”

        Goodbye Liberty

    30. Henry says:

      If you don’t think books belong on the sidewalk, maybe you don’t belong on the sidewalk. You’ve all ruined this city.

    31. 2 Handicap says:

      While the cops are out “cleaning” the neighborhood perhaps that could start confiscating all the filthy homeless people sleeping in front of every empty store front. Or panhandling on street corners. The above are both far worse than a pile of books on the edge of a sidewalk.

      • dannyboy says:

        The “cleaning” has begun.

        First they came for the booksellers, then they “start[ed] confiscating all the filthy homeless people sleeping in front of every empty store front.”, then they came for the “panhandling on street corners.”, then they…

    32. http://nypost.com/2011/08/19/parking-squat/
      From the article, “Formerly a lawyer, the Shakespeare-quoting, stogey-smoking vendor began selling used books on his folding table at the corner after getting convicted of stealing from his clients and disbarred.”

      Yup, disbarred. You know you’ve done something shady when lawyers have permanently (as is the case here) banned you from sharing a profession with them.

    33. Max says:

      God the people on here are really mean spirited and authoritarian. And anti-intellectual to boot. The booksellers are one of my favorite things about the neighborhood. I go to them all the time. How sanitized to you want the UWS to be? And do you really want to see fewer books on the street. BOOKS for crying out loud! We’re so lucky!

      • Jay says:

        Max (AKA dannyboy), it’s not ‘anti-intellectual’ to want the law to be enforced.

        • dannyboy says:

          Since Max hasn’t replied to your denial (although he was on to something with: “really mean spirited and authoritarian.”), I notice that you are so excited about ridding these books that I’m expecting a bonfire.

    34. Susan says:

      I am happy about this and feel the booksellers encroach on public space and make more noise and dirt for others

    35. jor says:

      This would be perfect spot ro have racks for them blessed and holy alternate mode of transportation (for the tourists young and/or affluent) greenwashing machines,

    36. Ellen says:

      Get rid of all those bedbug ridden books and the nasty vendors. It’s about time.

      • dannyboy says:

        “Remove those ‘nasty’ people from my sight!”

        -thus spake Queen ‘Ellen’ of Hearts