Mercer Street Books Needs a Hand

Mercer Street Book & Records opened in Greenwich Village 30 years ago. Back then, used bookstores in the neighborhood were the norm. Now, we’re the last of the old guard. And we want to go on, but the future is unsure and our ongoing debts are real.

During the months we were closed, people knocked on our window every day.  Here’s what one of our neighbors wrote:

Zadie Smith (Author of White Teeth and Swing Time among others)

“Without exaggeration, if Mercer Street Books closes you might as well just shut down the village and call it a day. It is a centre of culture, a library's reading room, a record store, a tiny gallery (constructed of art book covers) a late-night hang, an autodidact's paradise, the site of the best overhead conversations to be found beneath fourteenth street, and a great place to find out just how little the reviewer who received your latest proof actually read of said proof (spine unbroken; zero notes made.) Without Mercer what's left? Frozen yoghurt? Vegan cupcakes? To do my particular kind of work, these past ten years, I've needed Mercer's like a body needs food. I can't be the only one. Long may it continue!”

During the shutdown people shouted through the glass that they wished we could reopen, soon. They told us they missed the browsing. They missed losing themselves in new ideas, new worlds, new lives. These people were from every part of our community: longtime customers, writers, students, faculty, travelers, the people next door. Used bookstores are important. There’s every reason for us to want to stay in business. But there is the debt—months of it. Thus Mercer Street Books would like to raise $97,500.

More of our customers had things to say:

Ben Kafka (Critic and author of The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork)

“I think it’s Colson Whitehead who says that you’re a true New Yorker when the places that are no longer there feel more real than the ones that are. The old Barnes & Noble on 18th St; 12th Street Books; St Marks Books; that bookstore at 1 University Place; the Strand before they installed air conditioning. We can take this melancholic tour, or one like it, in our minds.

“A lot of us are going to be feeling that way a lot in the months and years ahead. So much has been lost, irrevocably, in such a short time. Let’s do what we can to keep Mercer Street Books & Records going. It’s both the shop and the idea of the shop that need rescuing — the New York, and the Greenwich Village, that brought us here, or kept us here, and that keep us going.”

Christopher Bram (Author of Surprising Myself and Father of Frankenstein which became the Academy Award winning film Gods and Monsters)

“Mercer Street Books & Records is one of the gems of New York, a great shop full of surprises, a time machine that looks back to a past when the city was full of unpredictable stores for real readers. Let's keep this one going into the future. New York City would be a less soulful place without it.”

Valerie Steele (Curator of the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology)

“Mercer Street Books is a gem - one of the unique stores that makes New York City the cultural center that it is. I feel happy every time I come in - and even happier when I come out, always with some terrific books.”

Jeremiah Moss (Author and Blogger of Vanishing New York)

“Mercer Street Books is a haven, a consummate "third space" where people gather in informal community to discuss politics, the news of the day, and the ideas they're discovering in the books they read. Walking into Mercer Street Books is like walking into a social club that is open to anyone who comes through the door. To lose it would be to lose another piece of New York's rebellious soul.”

That is what the people around us are saying about Mercer Street Books & Records.

Dare we say that a bookstore is like an ancient temple to ideas? We think so, and hope you think so as well. But the temple must stand. That's why we are asking for your support right now. We all hope the books and the ideas will continue to flow for years from Mercer Street Books.

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Wayne Conti
New York, NY

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