Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hard to find bookstores in Queens

From the Daily News:

Queens may offer some of the best shopping in the city - and is home to the most profitable mall in the nation - but it could be the worst borough to find a good read.

With only five chain bookstores boroughwide and one notable independent retailer, most residents must trek to Manhattan or Long Island to find the latest best-seller, or buy it online.

Rising rents and dwindling profits have forced many branches to shut down completely...

Even Queens Center Mall, which boasts the highest revenue per square foot of any shopping center in the nation, is deemed a bad location for selling popular tomes. Not one of its 150 storefronts is a bookstore.

Many residents have requested a book haven in the mall, said spokeswoman Dawn Simon. But retailers haven't looked for a space since Walden Books left about 10 years ago, she said.

With only five major bookstores - one of which is a Borders in Terminal 5 at JFK Airport - for the entire borough of Queens, and the recent closings of 14 library branches on Saturdays, some say the demand is only growing.


Well, we could have had one at Flushing Commons. But the City decided that it was ok for a developer to put more luxury condos there instead.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hard to choose books when your customer base cant read English, and you dont know if they read anything but the MacDonalds value menu.

Anonymous said...

Seaburn book store is excellent and Queens should be embarrassed it has no other independent bookstores in a borough with 2.5 million people. Seaburn even carries some of those ghost written lies by hannity and the ilk.
Atrocious and very revealing because cities much smaller like Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis have many independent bookstores as well as publishers. Looks like Queens has not provided that to neighborhoods ever besides a dusty section at a Salvation Army store.

Anonymous said...

Kudos for bringing this topic to the fore. I could never understand why the Queens Mall did not have a Barnes and Noble or any other book store for that matter.

However, given that the majority of stores in this Mall cater to tween and junior clothing and chains that offer unnecessary merchandise, the mall may not want a book seller in their mix.

If there is little justification in going to the Atlas Mall, at least they do have Borders Books to make a trip there worthwhile & I do for that purpose, going to the movies and eating at Chillis.

A good book store location in Queens requires a large footprint and have easy parking as well as public transportation nearby.

Gary the Agnostic said...

Queens Center had a Brentano's a long time ago and there was a Barnes and Noble around the corner from it. Once they left, the Mall probably made no effort to bring in anything else.

Deke DaSilva said...

Atrocious and very revealing because cities much smaller like Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis have many independent bookstores as well as publishers.

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Portland
2005-7 American Community Survey Estimates
78.6% White

Seattle
2005-07 American Community Survey Estimates
White Americans made up 71.1% of Seattle's population

Minneapolis
As of the 2005-2007 American Community Survey, the city's population was 70.2% White

Queens
According to the 2005–2007 American Community Survey Estimates, the borough's population was 45.8% White

Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
Did you guess which thing just doesn't belong?
If you guessed this one is not like the others,
Then you're absolutely...right!

Anonymous said...

Who needs bookstores? We have a plethora of 99 cent stores, nail salons and taco trucks.

Vibrant! Diverse!

All jokes aside, if someone invested in a multilingual bookstore, they'd probably make a killing.

Deke DaSilva said...

All jokes aside, if someone invested in a multilingual bookstore, they'd probably make a killing.

Cheer up folks, if Queens keeps losing bookstores, we could end up like other Vibrant! and Diverse! cities such as Laredo, Texas, and Newark, New Jersey!

See here:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/
nation/79442587.html

Sergey Kadinsky said...

Queens has many mom-and-pop book stores. But they are mostly foreign language stores.

As children of immigrants become more Americanized, you will see more English titles on their shelves.

Already, some local ethnic newspapers have English sections, in order to attract the next generation of readers.

FlooshingRezident said...

You can not compare NYC to Seattle. Even the baristas in Seattle are college grads.

All of the non-whites I met during the four years I lived there spoke impeccable English and worked at Microsoft, Amazon, REI, or Boeing. They were working hard at becoming Americans.

Seattle and Minneapolis tied for most literate American city in 2008. NYC came in at #24.

http://web.ccsu.edu/AMLC08/default.htm

When was the last time time you saw someone reading the NY Times on the #7? Thirty years ago, before Walkmen and Ipods, EVERYONE carried reading material for the long haul into the city.

Washington State also prides itself on it's gorgeous libraries. The Queens libraries are filled with crap-lit and are dumping grounds for kids in the afternoons. Why aren't they quiet anymore?

OK - that's my rant for the day.

Anonymous said...

Deke DaSilva said...
Atrocious and very revealing because cities much smaller like Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis have many independent bookstores as well as publishers.

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Portland
2005-7 American Community Survey Estimates
78.6% White

Seattle
2005-07 American Community Survey Estimates
White Americans made up 71.1% of Seattle's population

Minneapolis
As of the 2005-2007 American Community Survey, the city's population was 70.2% White

Queens
According to the 2005–2007 American Community Survey Estimates, the borough's population was 45.8% White

Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
Did you guess which thing just doesn't belong?
If you guessed this one is not like the others,
Then you're absolutely...right!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

This problem goes across all ethnic lines.

How many predominantly white communities in this city have a lot of book stores?

Anonymous said...

The major bookstores are in Bayside, Glendale & Forest Hills.

All three are predominantly white.

Anonymous said...

When most of your residents are illiterate immigrants or only speak one of 160 languages that are not english, its hard to sell books here.


The rest of us shop online.

Anonymous said...

All jokes aside, if someone invested in a multilingual bookstore, they'd probably make a killing.

--------------------------------

False. The margins on books are so slim, that if you tried to stock a spanish,chinese,korean, and polish copy of every book, you will NOT make money.

Anonymous said...

You don't stock a copy of every book in every language. You stock the ones that sell.

Anonymous said...

Nobody mentioned the Barnes & Noble at Union and Utopia right by St. John's. Are they still open?

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous
for all your xenophobia and lofty opinions you still can't spell McDonalds

Anonymous said...

Yes, Barnes & Noble at Union and Utopia is still open. The other bookstores I know of in Queens is Borders in Atlas park, B&N in Forest Hills and in Bayside. Are there any others?

Deke DaSilva said...

for all your xenophobia and lofty opinions you still can't spell McDonalds

Queens has a dwindling number of bookstores, but fear not, because the Spelling Gestapo and Thought Police are around to wash the citizenry's brains clean of all bad thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Go to Betterworldbooks.com they are cheap, they save used books from landfills and doanate money to world literacy..BTW, they have free shipping and will take donations and or buy back books also free shipping.

Ridgewood Mike said...

Even at 45 percent white, Queens has more white people in absolute terms than Minneapolis and Seattle combined. So whatever the cause of the problem, it's not that there aren't enough white consumers in Queens.

Anonymous said...

White people in Queens buy after work in Manhattan.

Anonymous said...

If Minneapolis is deemed that literate then that survey is full of baloney. It's resembling NYC more and more and not in its good aspects either.

Anonymous said...

Who cares-- I read at least 1 book a week that I either get at the library or buy on Amazon. I can't stand Barnes & Noble (especially the Forest Hills store) or Borders, since so many of the people who go there think it's a library and so many of the books are in crappy condition. If you pay for Amazon Prime, you get your books within 2 days.

Ridgewoodian said...

Deke DaSilva:
Portland
2005-7 American Community Survey Estimates
78.6% White

Seattle
2005-07 American Community Survey Estimates
White Americans made up 71.1% of Seattle's population

Minneapolis
As of the 2005-2007 American Community Survey, the city's population was 70.2% White

Queens
According to the 2005–2007 American Community Survey Estimates, the borough's population was 45.8% White


Point?

Anonymous said...

White people spend more money on books.

Anonymous said...

I agree, it's hard to sell books when everyone's last name is either dingping ming dong or fernandoriquez!

Deke DaSilva said...

Point?

Do I have to spell it out for you?

Or, do you think I have some ulterior motive, and you're trying to bait me, hoping that I'll accidentally drop my wallet and show you my "White Citizens Council" membership card that I keep there?

It doesn't take a genius to dissect the demographics of the 3 cities that Anonymous #2 mentioned. The obvious one is that they are all "├╝ber white" cities. Even you can admit that income is highly correlated with race in this country, and income is also highly correlated with education.

It's no stretch of the imagination that avid book buyers tend to have higher disposable income, and also higher levels of formal education, on average.

What else do those 3 cities have in common? They're cities with large numbers of white, educated, liberal bohemian types. These are people described by David Brooks in his book as "bourgeois bohemians (Bobos)", or parodied by Christian Lander in his book and website "Stuff White People Like". These types of people also buy more books on average.

As for how this relates to Queens, Ridgewood Mike touched upon this in his comment:

Even at 45 percent white, Queens has more white people in absolute terms than Minneapolis and Seattle combined.

He's correct, and I don't know the answer, but I suspect it might have something to do with the whites in Minneapolis, Portland, and Seattle having higher average levels of education than the whites in Queens. Just my guess.

I don't see what's so controversial about pointing out any of this. I'll bet that Tara Mason, pictured in Crappy's blog post and the owner of Seaburn Books in Astoria, has noticed a thing or two about the demographics of her customers over the years.

But I like the fact that you respond to me rather than other commenters. I must be doing something right!

"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." - George Orwell

Anonymous said...

I suspect more bookstores would locate to Queens as there is more than enough english readers to support 10 giant book stores. The issue is the availability of store front real estate large enough to house these mega stores in shopping areas.

Book store storefronts are hurting from internet sales and the lack of interest by younger population who go to bookstore when absolutely necessary. People do read much less than they used to, a great example of this is reflected in the fact that the New York Times barely distributes their paper in Queens nor even bothers to acknowledge Queens exist as a desired readership. The city has all but closed their Queens libraries and bookstores are where a good segment of the population still go to.

The truth is reading and purchasing all traditional reading material sales are down dramatically. Newspapers are obsolete, books are read digitally and the internet has replaced traditional news sources and is the main distributor of content and even how books and content is sold.

Yes, I want more book stores, no I doubt too many will survive or be in existence in 10-15 years anywhere!

Anonymous said...

Ever think that many people in Queens may not be able to afford books or prefer not to buy them? One of the busiest libraries in NYC is the Flushing Branch.

Anonymous said...

Libraries these days rent out DVDs and CDs, too. And sure, Flushing is busy because Asians read.

Anonymous said...

Hey, not long ago you guys were blasting the Queensboro Library System for being antiquated and on its way out with the advent of computers.

Give me a library any day. Books can be read by several people and waste can be kept from landfills. Librarians keeping an eye on children don't hurt either.

Many of them don't mind enforcing basic rules of decorum while the children are there.

Anonymous said...

But I'm sure all your parents out there are happy to know that there are more than 20 EBGames and Gamestops in Queens!

Ridgewoodian said...

Deke DaSilva: Even you can admit that income is highly correlated with race in this country, and income is also highly correlated with education.

And as any statistician will tell you: Correlation does not imply causation. If you really want to talk about income and education why don’t you talk about income and education? That might actually be a useful contribution to the discussion. Because race is not a stand-in for those two things. (Especially not in Queens where for at least twenty years blacks have enjoyed a higher median income than whites.)

Why are there so few bookstores in Queens? Probably there are a lot of reasons. Income and education possibly have something to do with it, although Queens is certainly not the poorest or least educated borough. Language is probably a major factor. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were smaller, “uncharted” stores selling to specific ethnic groups - just as there are a million video stores in Jackson Heights offering all the Bollywood one could possibly desire.

I tend to believe that it’s mostly a matter of geography and convenience. My perception is that most bookstores are located where there’s a good deal of foot traffic, where they can attract casual browsers off the street. And not just that, they mostly seem to be located in areas that are easily accessible to other parts of the city; I doubt that there are many neighborhoods, aside from ones that are homes to colleges and universities, that could support a bookstore just on the business their own populations could generate. Queens is rather large, with widely separated nodes of population and business districts. It’s not always easy to get around or to go from one business district to another. There are very few places that could generate the casual foot traffic needed to support a book store, and those places are often hard to reach from elsewhere in the borough. If I’m looking for one, specific, well know book and I want it right now, I might go over to the Borders at Atlas Park, since it’s not too far from me. But if I’m in no hurry I’m just as likely to order it from Amazon. And if I have a few minutes to kill I’m much more likely to do it at the St. Mark’s Bookstore, say or at one of a thousand Barnes and Nobles, since I’m more likely, in the normal course of my life, to be in the East Village or Union Square, or Lincoln Center than I am to be at Atlas Park.

Deke DaSilva said...

(Especially not in Queens where for at least twenty years blacks have enjoyed a higher median income than whites.)

From an old NY Times Article:

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/06/08/nyregion/
blacks-reach-a-milestone-in-queens-income-parity.html?pagewanted=1

"Queens's growing population of Hispanic people, who can be of either race, tended statistically to hold down income gains of whites. About half of all the Hispanic people in Queens described themselves as white to the Census Bureau. And some affluent whites left the borough."

So, the definition of "white person" is really fluid. When it comes to "hate crimes" committed by "whites" against blacks, Hispanics are included with "whites" to make the white "hate crimes" statistics seem larger than they really are.

When it comes to affirmative action, those Hispanics that are included with "white people" for income statistics and "hate crimes", magically become "Oppressed Minority Hispanics", and demand the usual package of goodies.

jessica said...

there's always atlas mall for borders or austin street in forest hills for barnes and noble. There's also a barnes and noble on union turnpike by st johns university