Paying Respects to Morningside Books

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If you’re still in the neighborhood, you have approximate five hours to say goodbye to Morningside Books, which closes tonight at midnight. The New York Times spent some time at the store recently, and yesterday detailed both the store’s lively final days, and its financial struggles, along with a slideshow.

Many neighborhood residents talked about their disappointment over the store’s closure – one resident said, “it’s not like losing a finger. It’s like losing an arm.” Apparently, the store owners received over $60,000 in donations to pay the store’s rent (approximate $9,000 a month, according to the Times).

But the story also notes just how fiscally untenable the store’s position was: $158,000 owed in rent, and the owners finally threw in the proverbial towel in April, after several revenue-increasing options (including opening a coffee shop inside the store) fell through. It’s unclear what the space’s future will be–the owner of Book Culture has entered a proposal to buy it, continuing the fifty-year streak of it being an independent bookstore–but for now, we are just sad it had to end.

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  1. ...

    Fuck Book Culture and their "independent bookstore" mentality. They have a monopoly on the local textbook market and they know it, especially given that half of the professors at school go out of their way to order books through them, and not through the Lerner bookstore. They aren't any cheaper than the bookstore, the employees are complete douchebags, and they actually pay LESS for used books than the Lerner bookstore does (in my experience, at least), so why the hell are we so obsessed with giving them our money?

    • ehhh

      yea have to agree with you on the friendliness issue... rather pretentious really

    • ...  

      i've found their staff to be friendly, helpful and totally approachable. and i'm about the farthest thing you'll find from a horned rim glasses wearing, vintage sweatervest flaunting booksnob hipster.

      ...and the reason for supporting independent mom and pop shops is because it keeps more money in the local economy, doofus.

      i understand that you go to columbia and nothing makes you happier than the idea of using your pending status to insert yourself a few steps ahead in some gigantic corporate hierarchical mediocracy, but believe it or not, small business fuels the middle class which makes life in this world just a tiny bit less obnoxious.

      • are you sure

        you aren't a horn-rimmed glasses wearing, sweatervest flaunting booksnob hipster? Your perspective on corporations of different sizes belies you.

      • Dear God.

        "i understand that you go to columbia and nothing makes you happier than the idea of using your pending status to insert yourself a few steps ahead in some gigantic corporate hierarchical mediocracy, but believe it or not, small business fuels the middle class which makes life in this world just a tiny bit less obnoxious."

        You getting over yourself would also contribute to that. Seriously, could you be any more of a vapid self-hating college cliche?

        Let me guess; were you also wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt when you wrote this?

        if you consider Book Cultures (with contracts up to wazoo with Columbia, and a greedy resell policy that would make Wal-Mart shake its head) a 'mom & pop' shop you're...not all that bright. Educate yourself; THEN speak.

  2. Anonymous

    Well, it is impressive that the owner of Book Culture can afford to buy Morningside as well.

  3. Gotta

    wonder why Morningside Books never hopped aboard the textbook gravy train like Book Culture did.

  4. would it

    have helped their business to not have the Bush-bashing signage on the window...especially months after he left office?

  5. weekender

    when are you gonna have the guide to the weekend again?

  6. hmm

    you're all really annoying.

  7. lmfao

    yes look at all the people here making assumptions about a commenter being "horn-rimmed glasses wearing, sweatervest flaunting booksnob hipster" (#8) and "wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt" (#9)
    jesus christ you people sound like assholes. assuming people dress a certain way based on their online blog COMMENTS? lmfaoooo holy christ. pathetic

  8. Morningside  

    won't be closed until tonight, not last night, and I think the owner was saying he was going to try to find a way to pay about another week's rent, to sell off the rest of the stuff

  9. meh

    the guy who owned it was really nice, but the books were always really dirty and full-market price. the economy of scale, the high rent, and the shitty inventory really just did him in. i certainly tried to purchase my leisure titles from him, but i think finding a spot in the textbook market really would have helped him. i remember one time a prof ordered the books from there and it being somewhat of a hassle in getting them all.

  10. maybe

    Morningside Books should mark up their books at a higher discount if they want to get rid of their inventory. Maybe sell the Penguin classics for Lit Hum/CC to the lerner bookstore?

  11. Sigh

    I'm neither corporatist nor communist, but I'm a bit annoyed by the fact that people are willing to mount impassioned defenses and write eulogistic blog posts to what was, during my four years on campus, an utterly useless bookstore.

    Morningside Books did not provide textbooks, did not offer much of a discount off of full price books and certainly no savings off of an online store, had a meager selection, and generally failed to offer any merchandise I needed to purchase. To my knowledge, it did not sponsor Columbia student groups as often as Book Culture/Labyrinth, and the few times I poked around the shop, its proprietors were not noticeably more friendly than anyone else.

    The fact that the business was 18 months(!) behind in its rent and still operating is testament to rather extraordinary forbearance on the part of its landlord, not the quality of the bookshop.

    Merely managing to exist for a long time does not make you an indelible part of the community fabric, and I for one will be glad to see the shop replaced by something hopefully a bit more useful.

    • GASP!

      You facist corporate pig, you!

      How DARE you use logic. America's mom and pop shops are dying! DYING!

    • thank you!

      i completely agree. i really do NOT care that it's going because it was completely irrelevant.

    • ...  

      no brick and mortar outfit is going to be able to compete with the razor thin margins under which online stores can operate.

      it's clear that retail "shopping" will become reserved for very expensive items being peddled to people with very deep pockets, with most people getting their stuff online from megaconglomerates like amazon.

      yes, under this scheme, retail will be more "efficient," goods will be distributed for less overhead...

      however, back to the original point, less local entrepreneurs means a more polar society. the middle class is the magic that makes this country worthwhile. don't believe me? go spend some time in sao paulo, then we'll talk.

      • Obvious

        The next logical step of internet retail is the elimination of the middle class.

        It's so apparent that almost every middle class person runs his own retail store against which online companies can compete.

        In short Internet -> mass poverty

        God I love sarcasm...

  12. Working Class Hero

    I have internet too! But I don't have a Mac.

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