Book Culture Starts Gaining Political Support; Owner Says Minimum Wage Hike Has Hurt

Book Culture owner Chris Doeblin has elaborated on an email he sent last week asking for government help to keep the company’s four stores afloat. In a follow-up email to customers he quantified the stores’ needs. “We are hoping to borrow and then repay at least $750,000 to pay our vendors and publishers and restock our stores,” he wrote.

Doeblin said he’s hoping to find an equity investor or lending source, as opposed to depending on crowdfunding.

Some small businesses have turned to crowdfunding in recent months to stay afloat. A GoFundMe campaign led by local Bobby Panza ended up raising more than $50,000 for Westsider Books on Broadway between 80th and 81st Streets earlier this year, keeping the store from closing. Another crowdfunder for Beacon Hardware on Amsterdam, however, has not hit its goal.

Doeblin said he’s looking to change the political calculus for all small businesses by “appealing to a change in the priorities of local government. The support of small business and storefront businesses, which are hubs of culture, education, and community-building, needs to be a main focus of our city.” Council Member Helen Rosenthal and Borough President Gale Brewer are working to get him help through the city’s office of Small Business Services. And he’s met with State Senator Mike Gianaris and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Queens politicians (Book Culture has a store in Queens).

In an email to West Side Rag, Doeblin also wrote that the state’s minimum wage hike to $15 had also made it harder for the store. “The most recent problem has been adapting to a starting wage which went from just over $10 per hour to just over $15 an hour in just over two years. I hope that the city provides us with a loan or underwrites a loan with a local bank like amalgamated.”

The full email to customers is below:

Addressing Your Questions
Dear Patrons, Members and New Yorkers,
Thank you so much on behalf of all of us at Book Culture.
We have received an enormous outpouring of support, and we’d like to address a couple of common questions and share the status of our efforts.
We are hoping to borrow and then repay at least $750,000 to pay our vendors and publishers and restock our stores.
One of our goals is to find a lending source or equity investor and not rely on donations or crowdfunding, except as a last resort. More broadly, we are appealing to a change in the priorities of local government. The support of small business and storefront businesses, which are hubs of culture, education, and community-building, needs to be a main focus of our city.
I am asking that a mechanism be found to provide a lending source to Book Culture by the City or the State.
We have received many of your requests to know who to write and what to say. I have met with our State Senator Mike Gianaris. He has said he he will pursue a solution for our needs and get back to me.  You can email him to let him know of your support and love for Book Culture: https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/michael-gianaris/contact.
I have spoken to Jimmy Van Bramer, our council member in Queens, and he has proposed that we meet with Corey Johnson the Council Speaker, whose chief of staff spoke with me toward that same end. You can write to them, other council members, and the mayor to ask them to meet with me to find a solution for Book Culture, and by extension, all storefront business.
You can meet Jimmy Van Bramer in person at our store in LIC on Tuesday July 2nd at 6pm where he is doing a meet and greet to hear what’s important to you. You can RSVP via email: mike@bhstrategiesllc.com.
Helen Rosenthal and Gale Brewer have gotten involved as well and have asked the office of Small Business Services to discuss possible solutions with me. I have discussed possible paths with their Chief of Staff. You can write to Greg Bishop, the director of that agency, here, https://www1.nyc.gov/site/sbs/about/email-the-commissioner.page and ask that his office be as forward-thinking and supportive as possible.
We remain open to a private solution as well.  We are open to borrowing or taking investment. The initial conversations I’ve had with city and state officials indicate that legislative help will not be  will not be immediate, and therefore a pivot to the private sector is likely. With several possible paths, we remain ever optimistic.
The economic realities, the financial levers, and the amount of commerce that has become internet-based and delivered makes the challenge complex, but it is not insurmountable.
We should all take heart that so much genuine concern from our local government is evident. The many letters of support that indicate warmth and appreciation for our human enterprise have been profoundly uplifting.
New York, you have always been a great home to us, and we plan to stay.
More soon.
Chris Doeblin
NEWS | 65 comments | permalink
    1. GG says:

      This guy has a lot of chutzpah. That’s for sure. I’m not sure that the business world is the right fit for him.

      Maybe something like a sociology professor or running a not-for-profit organization. Something along those lines. Just my opinion. Business, especially in NYC, is cutthroat and not for everybody.

    2. SJL7586 says:

      this should be a reality check to everyone who thinks mandatory $15 minimum wage is good for workers. It’s unsustainable for small mom and pop stores on top of the city taxes and regulations. There is always a lot of talk about supporting our local small businesses around the city, but the majority of us continue to push for policies that only big corporations can survive. I’m sad this small business has fallen victim to the predictable outcome of the bad ideas of its city leaders and constituents, but tax payers shouldn’t have to supplement the wages or prop up the store when they voted for the very policies hurting it.

      • Sean says:

        Where do you think these minimum wage workers live? They have to travel in to Manhattan. That is an expense.

    3. Wijmlet says:

      We love Book Culture and feel that the minimum wage is certainly deserved by its (and other) employees.

      We will, of course, continue to buy there.

    4. Rob G. says:

      Good luck with the plea for political support. With the extreme left/socialists in control of the City Council and State Legislatures, businesses both large and small will suffer. They know how to dole out welfare, but not how to provide job opportunities We need businesspeople in charge, not professional politicos.

      • LivesOnUWS says:

        I am with you. We should emulate Kansas, Oklahoma and slash taxes/services. Get more Trump types to grift and graft the economy. Privatize everything so only shareholders have a vote. Down with Unions, every place needs to be right to work. No more collective bargaining, that only creates a greedy lazy middle class. No more consumer protections, that stops businesses from growing profits for the shareholders.

    5. H says:

      Small businesses or storefront businesses as hubs of culture, education, and community building is an over exaggeration. Sometimes they are what they are – places of commerce and convenience and nothing more. When viewed with that lens, individual economic decisions will dictate behavior and ultimately decide which small businesses and storefronts are going to exist.

    6. ben says:

      If paying employees a (barely) living minimum wage now is hurting the business then maybe it shouldn’t have succeeded to begin with.

      • B.B. says:

        If an “employee” feels they can do better elsewhere, there’s the door and we wish you best of luck in your future endeavors.

        That is how free markets work; if an employee doesn’t like the terms of his or her current employer, then they are free to go elsewhere. If and or when enough labor does this then employer/market will respond with higher wages/better compensation.

    7. Sean says:

      I’m sorry it’s called the cost of doing business. The retail landscape has changed. The UWS is an affluent neighborhood and things are expensive here. When I
      moved here 42 years it was a much different place more like a small town. Businesses were family owned and staffed by locals meaning people who actually lived here. No one who works in any store here actually lives here now. They have to travel in and have costs just like the rest of us. They are not earning 6 figure incomes like the customers who form this bookstore’s base. He’s not a charity or a non profit. It’s a business. There are still books in the local library.

      • Dissident says:

        “There are still books in the local library.”

        As is the case with trendy stores such as Book Culture, government-run libraries help to perpetuate the ruling orthodoxy. Good luck finding, in either place, a true work of heresy against said intellectual totalitarianism. (I.e., works that seriously, substantively undermine the Approved Narrative in any area; works of Crimethink.) To say nothing of the events and presentations offered in such venues. (The ones directed at children and adolescents being of the greatest concern, naturally.) I would elaborate but I want this post to make it past the moderators (who have repeatedly and abundantly left not doubt but that they are firmly committed to the ruling orthodoxy).

      • Mike G says:

        No one who works in a store like Book Culture lives here now? Depending on where “here” means (NYC? Manhattan? The 10025 zip code?), you could possibly be right but are very likely wrong. I lived within a 40 minute walk of Book Culture on Broadway for the 6 years I worked there. And I knew a lot of other employees who lived in Morningside and Hamilton Heights. Sure, some lived in Brooklyn or Queens (especially Astoria, which is very close to Book Culture’s LIC store), but your statement is still off base.

    8. Buddy Revell says:

      Did he really suggest the city get in the business of making business loans? Could he be more out of touch with reality?

      • Jen says:

        And bailing off the banks at the taxpayers dime was not off the base? What’s the difference? I guess the amount of money the business owners make. The banks CEOs didn’t suffer at all, and still make millions. And we gave them taxpayers money.

        • Frank says:

          Although I agree more Wall St. heads should have rolled, you shouldn’t dismiss the Wall St. bailout entirely. Without it, things would have been a whole lot worse for everyone. The system had failed and instead of sinking the entire ship we bailed out the part that was in trouble. People with nothing in the market would have suffered the worst. The price for the bailout was some new regulations and IMO there should have been more.

          End of the day, the banks that didn’t go under have paid back their loans. We avoided a depression and let’s face it, the economy has recovered well over the last decade.

        • Buddy Revell says:

          If you were against the bank bailouts then you should be against the city making loans to private companies. The footprint that the banks had was much larger than a privately owned book store. Pensions, deposits, 401k’s were all at stake.

        • B.B. says:

          Obviously you aren’t well informed on the matter.

          Most if not a majority of large banks wanted *NO* part of said “bailout”. However federal government turned the screws and that was that. https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/weekly-updates/20-banks-forced-bailout/

          AIG was another matter; there Hank Paulson and others including his boss (GWBII) truly believed allowing the insurance giant to fail would unless all sorts of unforeseen disasters upon the world and US economies.

          For all the moaning about the bailing out the banks, federal government actually made a petty tidy sum on the deal: https://www.politifact.com/new-hampshire/statements/2012/oct/25/barack-obama/barack-obama-says-banks-paid-back-all-federal-bail/

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        Buddy Revell said:

        “Did he really suggest the city get in the business of making business loans? Could he be more out of touch with reality?”

        The US Federal Government guarantees many tens of thousands of small business loans through the US Small Business Administration.

        Many states also have small business loan guarantee programs:

        https://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/rpt/2013-R-0054.htm

        NY State has a wide variety of programs, including guarantees for borrowing:

        https://esd.ny.gov/new-york-state-surety-bond-assistance-program

        the Amazon deal was much more than loan guarantees; it included huge cash incentives per job created and also a $500 million construction GRANT (no payback required). So i fail to see why some sort of loan guarantee program is “out of touch with reality”, but Amazon’s state and city windfall was not.

        • Sherman says:

          Hi Bruce

          Whatever tax breaks and tax credits Amazon was to have received for opening in LIC were a drop in the bucket compared to the tax revenue Amazon would have generated for NYC/NYS.

          (And I’m not even talking about the tax revenue generated from businesses dependent on Amazon and Amazon employees).

          And I can tell you as a CPA it’s wildly misleading and incorrect to say Amazon pays no corporate income taxes.

          Amazon’s only sin in this LIC debacle was being arrogant and not foreseeing the lefty backlash. Amazon should have had better public relations.

          However, the most pathetic thing is that the same boneheads who chased Amazon out of LIC are the same people who fought for a $15 minimum wage – which is crushing already struggling small businesses.

          Sherm

          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            Sherman said:

            “Whatever tax breaks and tax credits Amazon was to have received for opening in LIC were a drop in the bucket compared to the tax revenue Amazon would have generated for NYC/NYS.

            (And I’m not even talking about the tax revenue generated from businesses dependent on Amazon and Amazon employees).”

            I’ve actually looked closely at the numbers, and analyzed them. The Governor’s claims of 9:1 return on investment ($9 in taxes received for every $1 in subsidies) were based on a lot of clever sleight-of-hands. For example: the Governor projected the state’s ROI out 25 years, whereas the subsidies only extended for 10. For the first 10 years, it was about break even. And this included ALL the new income taxes extra Amazon employees were paying. In other words, the state was taking all the income taxes and handing them over to Amazon, for 10 years

            I wonder how Book Culture would do if they had that sort of arrangement?

            And yes, the state’s calculation also included “ancillary” jobs: the so-called “multiplier effect” from new money flowing from Amazon payrolls.

            I would be interested to hear what you claim the US corporate taxes Amazon is paying. I haven’t looked at that closely, but i wonder what your argument is.

    9. rs says:

      If he can’t afford to pay a decent wage to his employees he has no business running a business.

    10. Kat French says:

      How can one can live in New York on $15 per hour, let alone $10? i feel for Mr. Doeblin, I do. And I patronize his store. But he should not have blamed his current woes on employees. Who has money in Manhattan? The real estate develooers and the landlords! Let’s focus the blame where it belongs: on greedy millionaires, not poor retail clerks.

      • LK says:

        Right, why should one let the facts get in the way. The business owner explains that the change of minimum wage has adversely affected his business. You – “let’s blame millionaires”. Here are the numbers from his letter, “We employ over 75 people at peak season and had a payroll over $1.7M last year. Book Culture has always been committed to paying our employees above minimum wage, both before and after the increase. All of that payroll along with the $700,000 a year that we pay in rent goes right back into the New York economy, which is why I address our government here.” Please note from above, that payroll is a bigger part of the operational costs than rent. Raising the minimum wage by 50% was a huge hit on the small and medium business – face the facts.

      • Sean says:

        This is not the first time he has tried this. His employee relations are bad Google him.

      • Sherman says:

        I guess online competition and high minimum wage has absolutely nothing to do with BC’s problems.

        It’s all because of “greedy millionaires”.

        • E says:

          Perhaps small picture, yes. Yes the immediate issue is that expenses grew and now business is hurting. The bigger picture, however, is all the policies that created such a situation for his business. So, yes, greed.

          • Sherman says:

            I think you should write a letter to Jeff Bezos and tell him to stop selling stuff online because he’s being greedy.

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              it would make sense to write a letter to Jeff Bezos urging him to stop treating his warehouse workers like robots, pushing them to the brink, and having inhuman policies such as pressuring people not to take bathroom breaks (many pee on the job in cups).

              https://amazonemancipatory.com/

              If you put in a few minutes of research, you will find lots of testimony from Amazon employees and former employees about the ceaseless desire to cut costs inflicts suffering on the low paid warehouse workers.

              you might further want to look into John Oliver’s excellent piece on this from this past Sunday:

              https://www.hbo.com/last-week-tonight-with-john-oliver

              Finally,it would make sense to have a letter writing campaign against Amazon’s anti-union policies. Amazon workers need unionization!

    11. Sherman says:

      “Doeblin also wrote that the state’s minimum wage hike to $15 had also made it harder for the store”.

      The big irony of this is that Book Culture is one of the intellectual centers of UWS liberalism and it is now being destroyed by recently enacted “progressive” policies.

      • Frank says:

        It’s to the point where it isn’t even ironic anymore. Modern progressive politics won’t rest until it destroys itself. You reap what you sow and it’s rich hearing from a for-profit, private business owner making the case that he deserves a loan (which he’ll likely never be able to pay back) in part because he has to pay his employees a wage in which he actively fought for and supported through via the radical leftwing activist agenda.

        Look, I understand people want to look cool and fit in, and there’s no a doubt a virtue avarice plague at the moment, but at the end of the day the voting booth is private and you’re a fool if you don’t vote for your family and business best interests. And you should prioritize those first.

    12. H says:

      What is the solution? Not pay $15 minimum wage to anyone or that small businesses would be exempt from such a law? While some decisions and laws have unintended consequences, why would anyone want to work for a small business for less than $15 if the alternative is at least that much elsewhere? Not sure exactly what this individual wants. Unfortunately he’s in a business that in all reality for the most part is no longer needed – the printed word. And I love reading physical books over a digital one as I prefer the feel of a book but more and more people are making the move towards a digital version. Makes sense that a business selling physical books would struggle, in particular in a city where real estate prices are high. Are shoe cobblers next to complain?

    13. UWSgal says:

      UWS libs -$15 is mandatory!

      Also UWS libs- Why are all our mom n pop stores closing leaving us with empty storefronts?

    14. lynn says:

      My apologies, this is off topic, but I’m not having any success with a Google search, and I’m hoping that someone here knows of a place that accepts book donations. The books are in mint condition. Any suggestions? Thank you!

      • B.B. says:

        Housing Works as always “worked” for us.

        • lynn says:

          Thank you, I really appreciate it! I used to give everything to the Goodwill but they stopped accepting books.

      • Jen says:

        Libraries? I always donate to one on Amsterdam and 66th.

        • lynn says:

          Thank you for the suggestion. I suppose I never really thought about where books in the library came from, lol. I have enough for the library and Housing Works at this point. 😉

          • MaryC says:

            The books you donate to the library go to their book sales. Rarely if ever do those books go into the collection. But still a worthy cause!

      • Carnival Canticle says:

        The NY Public Library takes book donations (or did last time I dropped some off). They generally don’t shelve them but sell them at their regular book sales to help fund the branch libraries. So does Salvation Army (box them up and call for pickup, or drop them off at the store on West 96th St.) Both provide receipts for tax purposes. The commercial thrift shop on Columbus between 83-84 takes book donations (and sells them for $1 each).

        • lynn says:

          Thanks so much! I had tried the Salvation Army a couple of years ago and they wouldn’t pick up, but I’ll give it another shot as I have additional items. I wasn’t aware that there was another thrift store in the 80’s. Will definitely check that out. 🙂

    15. UWS Craig says:

      There is an irony in that Book Culture curates its selection to aggressively promote progressive policies, yet those policies are leading to its ruin.
      Perhaps if the store featured more books by the likes of Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek and Lawrence Kudlow, its fortunes would improve.

    16. Ira says:

      Chris, If your business plan and pro forma doesn’t support a loan through private funding, why would I want my government to underwrite such a loan and jeopardize taxpayer money? Or do you see the government as a lender less likely to enforce the terms of your loan in the event of a default. Again I appreciate your store and the passion you have shown but you made the choice to open a book store. Hey maybe the government can help you out with a liquor permit and you can sell books and wine!

    17. Leon says:

      All of the pro-minimum wage people here are commenting on being able to live on $15 an hour. However, I believe this law also applies to part-time employees. Local stores like Book Culture tend to employee lots of students and part-time workers for 15-20 hours a week. I’m sure there are plenty of high school kids who would be thrilled to get $12 an hour. Instead, they just got a huge raise. This is where the problem is – I have less of an issue of a minimum wage for full-time workers.

    18. Sid says:

      Wages have been stagnant for decades while the cost of living and inflation have risen. If you can’t pay a living wage to your employees, then you need to reconsider your business model.

    19. Lisa says:

      I feel for his struggles and hope that he can remain in business, yet he likely also votes in the politicians that set regulations and taxes so burdensome that no business (especially an independent, small business) can thrive. He complains about big companies like Amazon getting tax breaks, but fails to see that the reason they are offered tax breaks to come to New York is because New York is so uncompetitive compared to other states. Until NYers are smart enough to realize this and vote for politicians who understand economics and business, NYC will continue to circle the drain.

    20. aroundthecorner says:

      The biggest challenge for Book Culture and for other stores like them is how to justify charging 2x what Amazon charges for a book. I live nearby, read a lot of books, and believe in small businesses – but at some point, the economics shift for customers such that paying such a premium is no longer desirable, wise, or possible. Would the solution be for me to buy half as many books so I can pay 2x at Book Culture? More likely, I think BC needs to continue to evolve to develop additional revenue streams, better train staff to make the store experience more engaging, host more and more diverse types of gatherings to get people in the door, etc. It’s not easy – and I *so* want them to survive – but getting a $750k loan which their current business model won’t support doesn’t seem like a good idea either.

    21. Paul L says:

      I’m sorry you guys can’t have it both ways. You can’t lament that all small mom and pop stores are closing in the uws, and then tell a long time business owner as book culture, if you can’t pay $15 hour, you shouldn’t be in business. Nobody is against a fair wage for employees. But there is no doubt that the increase in minimum wage has caused the small mom and pops closing. So good luck having McDonald’s, Popeyes, and restaurants charging $300 for a meal for two and $20 glasses or Merlot

      • B.B. says:

        Thank you!

        Every good or service costs more in NYC/NYS due in large part to one of the highest costs of doing business of all fifty states.

        High taxation rates, heavy regulation, high employee and other costs long have driven businesses out of this city/state.

        Many businesses people moan about closing were of the low margin sort. As such uniquely and immediately effected by even small increases in costs of doing business. Piled onto this is the arrival of online as a major competitor who by nature has lower costs due to lack of a physical space.

        Same people shouting “if a business can’t pay employees $15/hr. or a living wage they should close….”, are same ones kvetching about how much things cost. This totally ignores causative forces one has upon the other.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          ha! what a joke to name all the high costs of doing business… and forget about the RENT.

          lots of states and cities have $15 minimum wage now. Few have the outrageous commercial rents of NYC.

          A $15 minimum wage has positive social and economic benefits on the many. Outrageous rents only benefits the commercial landlords, usually in the top 0.5% of income, and some real estate agents.

          • Filatura says:

            Ah, the rent.
            The B.C. on Columbus is a huge, beautifully decorated shop in a luxury coop (though I remember the days when the building was a fleabag SRO). I don’t imagine the rent is a bargain.
            Rather than complain about paying $15 an hour to its employees, many of whom look of an age to be loaded with student debt, how about re-opening in more modest digs, assuming such can be found?
            Am I also correct that a co-owner of the Columbus Ave B.C. is Rick MacArthur, President and Publisher of Harper’s Magazine? Can the store seek financial help from that corner?

    22. Designaddict10023 says:

      Has nothing to do with paying a living wage … it’s the $)@;&:&/ rent …. FFS Starbucks STARBUCKS on Columbus and 68 couldn’t afford the rent hike … THAT is what kills small biz

      And sorry … if he can’t pay his employees 15/hr close a store or two … the one on Broadway is nothing more than a gift shop

      • Dragomir Radev says:

        It is not true that the store on Broadway is just like a gift shop. They actually have a very decent collection of books for such a small space.

        • RF says:

          Also, what is the harm in selling merchandise other than books, if those sales help keep the store in business? I rarely buy physical books anymore, but I shop at Book Culture on a regular basis specifically FOR the gift items. It’s my go-to for unique cards, NYC-themed gifts, etc. If they didn’t carry those things, I doubt I’d ever shop there. Why is diversifying the product line a bad thing?

    23. Conor says:

      I question the instincts of a business owner who thinks complaining about the minimum wage will gain him sympathy on the Upper West Side.

    24. Barbara Aubrey says:

      It is not the minimum wage that hurts small businesses it is greedy landlords who charge outrages rents.

      • Designaddict10023 says:

        Correct

        • Jo Ann says:

          My thoughts exactly. What is the monthly rent?

          And I come into your store because of your smart and interesting employees who read and know what to recommend. I could buy a book online, but the reason I shop in stores is because the employees give advice and add value to shopping experience.

          • B.B. says:

            Am fed up to the back teeth with the ad hoc response that “greedy landlords” are at the root of every ill that befalls commercial/retail.

            Why don’t some of you buy a property then get back to us on how cushy things are for landlords in this city/state.

            More galling is the fact large percentage of these comments come from persons living in rent regulated or subsidized housing, and has such have never had to deal with pure market RE forces a day in their lives.

            Main issue with many small or even larger businesses is same with a great number of households in NYC: they just do not generate/earn enough revenue to sustain themselves. In neither commercial or residential is is not the LL’s obligation per se to run a charity. They have their own bills to worry about.

            All retail share pretty much the same traits if they are selling goods. They must invest in inventory then hope are able to mark-up and sell on those goods at more than what they cost to earn profits.

            Book Culture has *four* locations, and before anyone starts writing checks I’d want to see Mr. Doeblin’s books.

            How many if any of BC’s stores are profitable or anywhere near? Where is the money going? What does Mr. Doeblin intend to do going forward to change things around in hopes of increasing sales, and or decreasing expenses. In short don’t just want to see a profit and loss report, but a forward statement on how BC intends to earn future revenue to pay back any loans, much less remain open.

            Off the bat in an era when independent book stores are struggling with a single location, why does BC continue to have four (4)?

            Mr. Doeblin seems like many other small business owners who have “dream”, or “vision” about things, and for better or worse will cling to that plan despite the fact it isn’t working.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              In response to “BB”:

              It’s interesting that you are so sympathetic to the plight of landlords, but, conversely, have recently slammed the $15 minimum wage. You said wages should strictly be determined by “market forces.” In other words, drive them as low as possible.

              A $15 minimum wage for a full time job comes to approx $30K a year, pre tax. I would like to see some sympathy for someone trying to live on that in NYC.

              You state a number of conditions you would like to see met before Mr. Doeblin gets a loan. Actually, whether subsidized or unsubsidized, these are exactly the conditions and information that lenders ask for. I actually agree with you on this point.

              but it’s interesting that you so want to see Mr. Doebln’s books. I feel exactly the same way towards some of these commercial and residential landlords who are demanding such high rents! Let’s see how much money they’re really making.

              It’s true that landlords of single small buildings often struggle. Not so for these large real estate companies that own buildings on the UWS. I think if they opened their books we would see that their owners are getting very very rich.

    25. B.B. says:

      If anyone bothers to do a bit of research via drips and drops a clearer picture of Book Culture’s so called “woes” appears.

      Total rent paid last year was $700k, and taxes were $650k.

      Book Culture’s largest customer base historically was Columbia University students, faculty and others connected to that entity.

      https://bwog.com/2019/07/book-culture-in-jeopardy-of-closing/

      Mr. Doeblin expanded BC at same time Amazon was already making inroads into book sales. Something that has only increased from early 2000’s. So now he has four locations to keep lights on and doors opened, but his expenses/CODB are increasing but for a host of reasons his sales are not.

      Will say this yet *again*; the issue isn’t “greedy” or whatever landlords per se. Mr. Chris Doeblin is like scores if not hundreds of other small businesses in this city who operate on very tight margins. As such they are keenly affected by any rise in various costs.

      Book stores all over USA aren’t just facing threats from online/Amazon, but fact people (especially the younger generations) are reading less printed paper, but going with digital instead.

      Print media in many forms is dying a slow death.

      Don’t know when some of you went to college/school but even that once rich mainstay of bookstores (textbooks) are going digital.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        Response to “BB”:

        I don’t think the statement regarding taxes means that Book Culture actually paid $650K in city taxes. what the link said was that Book Culture “produced $650K in tax revenues for the city.” My guess is that Doeblin is including all the NYC income taxes of his employees in that calculation, which is a fair comparison to the argument Amazon made. Even that seems a little high… I wonder if he is including both city and state taxes?

        This is an important point because your analysis made it seem like his city tax burden was on the same order of magnitude as his rent. I very much doubt it is.