The Greenwich Village location of Shakespeare & Co. Booksellers closed its doors last week after over 30 years of business in the heart of NYU’s campus. This most recent closure is part of a greater trend toward steep rents and commercialized retail offerings.
Since Posman Books bought out the chain in January, stores have gradually closed, leaving just the Upper East Side location. Shakespeare’s closure comes in the wake of a spate of high-profile shuttering of other established New York City booksellers, including Rizzoli Bookstore last spring.
NYU students and members of the community have weighed in on the closure.
“I used to get a lot of school books from there, especially in the downstairs area, which was the used section. I preferred to get my books at Shakespeare and Company, they had more options and would give me more money for used books I sold there.” — Catalina Escalona, GLS senior
“It’s too bad because it’s a sign that independent bookstores are closing and being taken over by larger corporations, so there’s going to be less diversity in the business.” — Monica Bulger, CAS senior
“It’s a testament to the erosion of community culture, in that Mom and Pop stores just aren’t getting enough business anymore. Communities don’t support them anymore or they themselves can’t afford the rent.” — Darren Yee, Poly senior
“Anywhere else I’d say it’s just part of the endless cycle of reinvention, but I feel like [in] Washington Square especially there is a fight to keep classic spots the same as much as possible. It seems like a failure of the community to not keep it going. As a tour guide I’ve had people stop me on tours about the NYU 2031 plan and people tell me, ‘it’s not your park.’ But I guess they didn’t fight for that one either.” — Jeremy Lakin, CAS senior
“Frankly, it’s a little scary. It’s a little scary to see something like bookstores closing. Even Barnes & Noble is suffering because of the whole e-book thing and Amazon.” — Misba Khan, Manager at Shakespeare and Co. Booksellers on the Upper East Side
“Of course, we’re comrades in this business, we don’t really feel like ‘Oh good, another one is gone.’ We sent people to them the time, and they’d send people to us. So it’s sad to see another store for books lost; it’s one more level on which New York becomes that much less attractive. Whether you’re a bookstore or shoe store, it’s pretty hard to beat the so-called ‘market rate.’” — Jim Drougas, owner of Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 8 print issue. Email Rahul Krishnamoorthy at [email protected]