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The New York Times has an interesting story about how economics have turned Manhattan into unfriendly turf for both independent and chain bookstores, a shift that reflects a broader cultural change that may not be entirely positive.

"Rising rents in Manhattan have forced out many retailers, from pizza joints to flower shops," the Times writes. "But the rapidly escalating cost of doing business there is also driving out bookstores, threatening the city’s sense of self as the center of the literary universe, the home of the publishing industry and a place that lures and nurtures authors and avid readers."

For example, the Times writes, "The Rizzoli Bookstore was recently told that it would be forced to leave its grand space on 57th Street because the owners decided that the building would be demolished … The Bank Street Bookstore in Morningside Heights announced in December that it would not renew its lease when it expires in February 2015, saying that it had lost money for the last decade. Both stores are scrambling to find new locations … Independents like Coliseum Books, Shakespeare and Company on the Upper West Side, Endicott Booksellers and Murder Ink have all closed their doors."

It isn't just the little guys: "Since 2007, five Barnes & Noble stores throughout Manhattan have closed, including its former flagship store on Fifth Avenue and 18th Street, which was shuttered in January. Five Borders stores in Manhattan were closed in 2011 when the chain went bankrupt, vacating huge spaces on Park Avenue, near Penn Station and in the Shops at Columbus Circle.

"State data reveals that from 2000 to 2012, the number of bookstores in Manhattan fell almost 30 percent, to 106 stores from 150. Jobs, naturally, have suffered as well: Annual employment in bookstores has decreased 46 percent during that period, according to the state’s Department of Labor."
KC's View:
This shouldn't be an enormous surprise to anyone. After all, Nora Ephron focused on the trend back in 1998 when she wrote and directed You've Got Mail. I'm not sanguine about these changes … I'm not sure how public policy can keep untenable businesses alive, and I'm certainly not happy when neighborhoods of New York start to resemble Florida strip malls.