Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Beloved East Village Bookstore Prepares to Close Doors

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A familiar reason is forcing a beloved East Village bookshop to shut its doors early next month—but the shop's workers are staying positive until the end. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

It's a familiar refrain among small retailers in the East Village: "The rent has gone up," says Margot Liddell, general manager of Shakespeare and Company Books.

When the book store opened on Broadway in 1987, Liddell worked there. Now she's the store's general manager as it prepares to close up shop on September 6. As one condition of our interview, she made us promise to let her work, while we spoke.

"I've had calls from kids, from California, from all over the place that say, 'We've heard you're going out of business and its horrible and this was our home,' you know, so...'" Liddell says.

When Shakespeare closes, many people expect a national chain store to move into the space, fitting in with this stretch of Broadway.

Long-time customers say all the changes to the surrounding area have made the neighborhood safer, but it comes at a cost.

"It's another loss in a neighborhood that is becoming very different—very consumer-oriented, very fast fashion, very fast food," says long-time customer Denise Martin.

Shakespeare and Co. was also a part of the NYU community. The shop sold textbooks and many students preferred to get their class materials here instead of the school's own book store.

"I love Shakespeare because their collection of dramatic literature was really stellar. In the basement, they have any kind of play you need," one NYU student says.

This closure is also a part of a national trend as the popularity of e-books grows. For some, though, the online stuff just isn't the same.

"I like having a book in my hand. I like pages rather than screens," another student says.

"I know, for myself, I like the book in hand," says another.

Margot does have hope for hard copy books, though.

"I think there is going to be a whole renaissance of the printed word. I don't know if it's going to happen in New York City because of the rents, but it will happen," Liddell says.

At its height, there were six Shakespeare and Company bookshops across the city. Now, there will be only one left on the Upper East Side.

Sources say it is in negotiations to be sold.

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