By Carol Tannenhauser
Book Culture, the popular independent bookstore with three locations on or near the Upper West Side, is no longer in imminent danger of closing, its owner Chris Doeblin emailed WSR on Thursday. But it has a new problem: pressure from publishers.
Doeblin’s unorthodox method of raising funds has borne some results—and mixed reactions. In June, he wrote an open letter to the community and elected officials requesting “financial assistance or investment on an interim basis.” In a follow-up letter, he clarified that he was “hoping to borrow and then repay at least $750,000 to pay our vendors and publishers, and restock our stores.”
Doeblin told us that he has raised “a little over $200,000” so far. He called it “a huge step forward,” but added he still has miles to go.
“We have committed to the students and faculty at Barnard and Columbia that we are going to be able to fulfill our course-book obligation,” he said.
Book Culture has locations near the campuses, on 112th Street between Amsterdam and Broadway, and 114th Street and Broadway. It also has a store on Columbus Avenue, between 81st and 82nd Streets.
“But we will have to continue our campaign for some time to get the stability we need to declare we are out of the woods,” Doeblin added.
Making matters worse, publishers are putting the squeeze on Book Culture. “The publishing industry is responding to our need for credit and inventory by shrinking our lines of credit to reduce their exposure to risk.”
For now, Book Culture is hanging on.
“We do not have an imminent plan to close,” Doeblin said. “We are going to continue to do everything we can to find financing that is sustainable.”