Can NYC Save This Classic Bookstore Chain?

New York takes a lot of pride in its homegrown franchises, but will it be able to save a crowd-favorite bookstore chain from foundering in financial troubles?

Book Culture Non-Fiction On Writing Young Readers


New York City bookstore chain Book Culture officially asked the city for help in a letter released on the company’s Facebook page on June 24.

The bookstore has been struggling to “find [its] footing” now that its payroll increased by 50% in the last thirty months, Chris Doeblin, Book Culture owner and author of the letter, said. Employees depend on their positions at Book Culture to support themselves, their families, their educations, and thereby the communities they serve.

Via @bookculture on Instagram

Doeblin doesn’t think the city should stand idly by as a hallmark of cultural pride submits to the bulldozing force of larger corporations, like Amazon and Walmart, especially when the local government was already in negotiations for for a rapid increase of Amazon employees before the company backed out of its decision to HQ in Queens.

“There is a history here of local government aiding business when it produces a return for the locality,” Doeblin wrote.

If anything, the city should make a concerted effort to keep Book Culture up and running because the business, however small, serves exclusively to bolster and improve New Yorkers’ quality of life.



Book Culture employs about seventy-five people at peak season for a total payroll of $1.7M. Since Book Culture is based in and stays in New York, employees are usually residents and students who pour their paychecks back into the local economy.

It’s not the kind of wealth you see on Wall Street, but it’s also not the kind of wealth you see on Wall Street. Jobs at Book Culture help employees pay for their college tuitions, or for their cost of living while they pursue other passions outside of bookselling.

Via @bookculture on Instagram

The owner of all four bookstores had to remortgage his home to secure the loans needed to keep the stores running in light of the recent minimum wage raises, and the competition independent stores face in areas that are ripe for real estate development.

Book Culture is a first-job kind of place. Employees know their customers and how to help them and this relationship enforces a unique neighborhood vibe.

Book Culture represents more than a single chain catering to a specific interest — businesses like Book Culture serve to boost community pride and identity. Without homegrown stores and businesses like Book Culture, communities throughout the city risk losing bits and pieces of their unique identity to faceless corporations.

Click here to read the full letter and here for the Gothamist’s coverage of the letter.







Featured Image Via