This morning at the St. Mark’s Bookshop, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Cooper Union president Jamshed Bharucha, and the owners of the store held a press conference on the subject of the store’s recent rent agreement with Cooper. Some of the usual suspects in East Village politics and activism, like State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, and Cooper Square Committee President Joyce Ravitz, were in attendance.
The wee little press conference took place in front of the bookstore, which has been saved for the moment by a $2500 reduction in its monthly rent. Stringer described the deal as a “tremendous collaboration.”
Cooper Union president Bharucha, who’s been at the center of a controversy over the specter of tuition at Cooper, also spoke. “I’m a lover of books,” he said. “I just popped in and bought a book. It’s the most important thing you can do.”
(Afterwards, the Voice snagged Bharucha for a minute or two and saw what book he bought. It’s Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged From Matter by Terrence W. Deacon, or “Terry” as Bharucha called him. Bharucha admitted it was a pretty heavy read.)
Reporters also heard from State Senator Dan Squadron, who told a story about how St. Mark’s Bookshop was instrumental to his meeting his wife, whom he brought there on their first date. “I was testing if she understood what a great local bookshop can do for the soul, and she did, and now she’s my wife, and we now have a child,” he said.
As for who will be shouldering the reduced rent, Stringer didn’t really say. He noted that Cooper Union is going through “its own fiscal issues.”
“Going forward, this agreement will only work if all of us participate in coming to this bookstore,” Stringer said.
Bob Contant, one of the bookstore’s owners, told the Voice that “you can’t predict the future.”
“We’re hoping the support we’ve received will go on,” he said.
The current rent deal will last for a year and Cooper Union also forgave $7,000 of the bookshop’s rent.