NEW YORK — The bookstore where my first book was published, “The Wicker Man,” was once the heart of a literary culture in this city that is now undergoing a radical shift.
Now, as New York City’s bookstore sector continues to recover from a yearlong economic downturn, the space will reopen with a bang.
And I’m not the only one.
The revival of an old bookstore — which had a unique connection to the city — has brought renewed life to a city that lost its bookstore culture in the years following the 2010 earthquake and the 2008 financial crisis.
In New York, a bookshop is a central part of the fabric of the city, and its rebirth is the latest sign that the city is returning to its roots.
But that connection, which was built on the ashes of the bookstores that once existed in the city’s most historic districts, is being lost.
The bookshop that I grew up in is no longer a fixture in the neighborhood.
Nowhere is this more apparent than at the corner of Central Park and Third Avenue.
That spot, once the hub of an extensive bookshop scene, is now home to a handful of independent bookstores.
Many of them are closing.
As the New York Times reported last week, bookstores are going out of business in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, the District, and Staten Island.
“The trend has accelerated in recent years,” said Roberta Pyle, a co-owner of The Wicker Bookshop, which is part of a growing group of independent and large chain bookstores, many of which have closed in recent decades.
“It is hard to say whether the resurgence is a result of a resurgence of local businesses or whether there is something broader going on.”
Many of the smaller, independent bookshops that once thrived in Brooklyn and other parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx have been pushed out of the market by larger chains that have moved to the suburbs and the suburbs’ downtowns.
And the trend is accelerating in places where traditional bookstores once thrive, such as the Bronx and the District.
The New York Post reported that the closure of the Wicker was not the result of an increase in book sales.
“I don’t think it’s an increase,” Pyle said.
“But I think it is something that we’re seeing happening in a lot of smaller cities and smaller towns across the country.”
It’s not just bookstores either.
A bookshop at the West Village’s Copley Square, a neighborhood staple, is closing for good.
“There are a lot more bookstores now than we used to have,” said James DeSouza, a bookstore owner in Brooklyn who owns The Winger Bookshop.
“Some of them have been going for a few years, but most of them haven’t been.”
He said he recently went through a “pretty significant renovation” of his store, but that the shop “is just going to have to do.”
The Wiggle Bookshop is on Central Park South between 6th and 7th streets.
DeSoukas said that after the shop was closed last year, he and a partner were given a letter from the New Yorker saying that “it is a sign of the times and of the impending demise of the small, independent bookstore scene.”
They are going to go out and buy a bunch of books.
De Soukas added that he believes the closure is part and parcel of the shift to the digital era.
“We are moving into a world that is much more digital, where we don’t have a physical bookstore,” he said.
The resurgence of bookstores is in part a response to the economic downturn that followed the collapse of the dot-com bubble in 2000 and the Great Recession of 2008-2009.
Many bookstores closed after the recession, while others were left open and have been expanding in recent months.
The bookstore in the West End neighborhood of Brooklyn, for example, was open for a couple of years before shutting down last year.
It closed last fall and opened a new location in the South Bronx.
The other bookstores in the area that have closed are in Brooklyn’s West Village and Queens neighborhood, and the rest of the neighborhoods in between.
Many smaller bookstores have also closed in Brooklyn.
The owner of a book shop in the East Village said he’s seen a shift in customers from the bookshoppe to the online-only bookstores and bookstores like Amazon.com.
“You can see a lot less books, and more people,” he told the Post.
“At the bookshop, people would come in with their iPads or their iPhones or whatever, and they’d have their books there.
Now you can’t have that anymore.
People have to go online.”
Many smaller independent booksellers in Brooklyn are also closing.
In Brooklyn Heights, where the former bookshop in the former Copleys Square was, one independent bookstore is closing.
“Bookstores in Brooklyn Heights are dying. I think