The long, sad saga of the St. Mark's Bookshop vs. Cooper Union has come to an end today, as Cooper Union hands down its final word: there shall be no rent reduction.
Instead of granting the Bookshop's request for a $5000 monthly reduction, Cooper Union instead is offering to postpone one month's rent that the store can pay back over the terms of the lease, which has another seven years. "What it amounts to in reality is a $27,000 loan with no interest that we can pay back over seven years," Bookshop co-owner Bob Contant told us. "But that's not a gift, that's not forgiveness—it's either they're collecting now or they're collecting later." During the meeting, a Cooper Union vice president told Contant and co-owner Terry McCoy that the school is "broke."
"St. Marks is not getting a rent reduction. Books: so unimportant to EVERYTHING FOR WHICH HIGHER EDUCATION SHOULD STAND," tweeted Soho bookstore McNally Jackson this morning upon hearing the news, which highlights just how strongly the lit community has rallied around the plight of the Bookshop. "The most heartening aspect of this whole thing has been the support shown by the community," Contant told us. "We've had very good business over the past two months—people not only signed the petition, but they actually bought books."
As of right now, the Bookshop is not in "imminent" danger of closing, though Contant and McCoy are scrambling to put together a plan for the future. "We had been optimistic that Cooper Union would offer us something, but they offered us nothing," said Contant. "We're still trying to come to terms with that."
UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: Joyce Ravitz of the Cooper Square Committee has told us that that Committee is "very disappointed" with Cooper Union's decision, and that the organization is planning some "other tactics" to help the store.
UPDATE 5:30 p.m.: The New York Times Local is reporting that Cooper Union has NOT made an official decision. “I can’t control what the bookstore says,” said a Cooper Union spokeswoman, adding there is a possibility the owners misunderstood the officials. “A decision has not been made.” We've placed calls to Cooper Union and will update when we find out more.