Shelf Awareness of 2 January reads:

Hold everything! The flagship McNally Jackson Books location in SoHo in New York City won’t be moving after all, according to Bowery Boogie, which broke the news last October that the store would move this year because of a rent increase.

Bowery Boogie’s report this morning reads in part: “Word on the street is now that the bookstore is to remain at 52 Prince Street. Its home of fourteen years. Several readers relayed word last week that McNally Jackson won’t be moving after all. An employee we spoke to at the store later confirmed.”

Last fall, owner Sarah McNally confirmed that the landlord of the 5,700-square-foot Prince Street store planned to raise the rent to $850,000 from $360,000. She indicated that she was close to signing a lease on a comparable space nearby that the store would move to this year.

McNally opened the Prince Street store in 2004 as McNally Robinson, part of the Canadian chain that her parents founded. In 2008, the store became independent and was renamed McNally Jackson.

McNally Jackson has several other stores. Last year, a second McNally Jackson bookstore opened in Williamsburg in Brooklyn. McNally Jackson also has two Goods for the Study stores, one near the SoHo bookstore and the other in Greenwich Village. And last August, Hudson Group announced that it will open a bookstore with McNally Jackson in LaGuardia Airport’s new Terminal B.

Photo: Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

Obviously welcome news; McNally Jackson is a great bookstore. They were the first NYC bookstore to have an Espresso Book Machine,* which may be less of a plus than we all once hoped it would be. But the bit of the announcement that gets me is that reference to the rent. $850,000! An increase of 236%. On a building that’s there, relatively modern, not by all appearances requiring any extra special maintenance. Just owned by someone who thinks they are entitled to more money. Presumably the new rent has been negotiated to some level between these two numbers: Sarah McNally herself described $360,000 as below market rate. But what a market: just because some clothing chain will pay more, why does that have to mean landlords should get as much as they want? As I have argued before we need to extend rent control from private apartments to essential business premises.


* Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but the main use of the Espresso seems to have become self-publishers printing out copies of their own books. I haven’t asked, but I suspect the function I foresaw in my 2011 post, — printing up a copy of a book that was out of stock at McNally Jackson — is less common than I’d hoped.