Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It Was, and Then It Wasn't

       

The sublimely charming Rizzoli bookstore in New York City.
         When I left for Florida last week, Rizzoli had told me that if I could guarantee 100 people would show up, they would give me a book signing in its gorgeous New York City flagship store. I contacted everyone I know and they contacted even more friends and colleagues. If only half of the people who said they would be there came out, we would have far surpassed the minimum must number I was given. You too responded by email and in comments to the post below that you would be there. You can perhaps imagine how excited I was.

           But that was then and yesterday is now. The rumors that have been swirling in the press and social media since January have been confirmed. The "beloved Rizzoli bookstore" -- the way most everyone referred to the former brownstone on West 57th street -- will be demolished and the search is on for a new location.

           Rizzoli is scheduling no more events.

           Of course I'm disappointed because it seemed like a dream come true to be in that rarefied atmosphere, but much more than that I find it so sad that yet another safe haven for beautiful books in the atmosphere they deserve will, according to all the press reports, be replaced by yet another glass residential tower. Art is yet again at another crossroads with commerce and, to think, Rizzoli had so exquisitely combined the two.

Inside the store.
          Unfortunately, the building that houses the charming 109-year-old bookstore did not meet the criteria for individual landmark status according to the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the commission said the midtown property, "lacks the architectural significance necessary to meet the criteria for designation as an individual landmark."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8osg0pwU3

           I have a particular affection for the store, apart from the obvious one most of us feel just walking through the doors into what always seemed a hallowed space where words and art were safe and celebrated. One of my very, very best friends was in the Rizzoli store talking to the manager while my agent and I were discussing where to send the proposal for my book. My friend sent a text to me that said: "Send your proposal to Rizzoli. The manager told me that readers love everything French and standing here I have a really, really good feeling about this."



          She was right, and the rest is a tiny part of my history with the extraordinary House of Rizzoli. I only wish it had had just one more chapter.

35 comments:

LPC said...

Oh wow. And so things pass. I hope you get to have a reading in New York anyway, somehow somewhere.

James said...

I feel your sorrow!

The enchanted home said...

That is sooo sad, a true landmark and symbolic in more ways than one of a passing era. I am sorry Tish as you know I would have been there in a heartbeat with friends in tow:-) Perhaps a better opportunity awaits you....if you believe in fate!

Anonymous said...

Why don't you try to schedule a book signing in another spot, perhaps in one of the French shops on Madison?

Sue Malizia said...

Such a shame they dont recognize the historic beauty at their finger tips. It looks like a true gem of a building. I've just finished reading your book, Tish and like everyone, "loved it"! Meeting and have you sign it would be a real treat... if you visit the San Francisco area I'll be there! Best to you...don't give up; there's another venue waiting for you.

une femme said...

I'm always sad to see a bookstore close. :-(

Anonymous said...

Why do beautiful buildings have to be demolished? Why can't architects incorporate them into the new building?
We wouldn't have the beautiful cities of the world where it is every person's dream to visit. e.g. Paris, Venice, London etc., if all the bureaucrats followed suit. We did it here in Melbourne Australia, beautiful buildings from out Gold Rush era, 1850's , pulled down in the 1950's for the ugliest things you would not wish to see. Still haven't learnt our lesson...
Linda C.

Tracy F. said...

I hate to hear this! Rizzoli is always a "must", on my trips to NYC. It is the epitome of a classic bookstore. I've always admired the beautiful architecture. It is hard to imagine that it didn't meet the criteria. I hope they re-open elsewhere in Manhattan, because their selection of books is sublime. Keep us posted!

Maria Norcia Santillanes said...

Hard to believe the building did not meet landmark criteria. As a young NYC girl in mid school , I loved to walk through the beautiful store after school. Sad to hear the building will be demolished and so an era passes. Perhaps you will have your signing in the new building and it will be just as wonderful! Best wishes, ~M

Jacqui said...

How sad to lose such a beautiful store, inside and out. What price progress :(

Kyle said...

It's always so sad when an independent bookstore closes. I hope they find a new home as beautiful as the old.

Karena Albert said...

Dear Tish, I have hoped for some time that the news of The Rizzoli Store closing would not come to pass. Unfortunately this is so much the way of the world, to replace the treasured old with glossy new!
So sorry that you were not able to have an event there.

xoxo
Karena
The Arts by Karena

Marsha Splenderosa said...

Oh, dammit, dammit, dammit !!
Come to Houston, we will do a book-signing for you and invite everyone who would have made it to NYC! I am so sad for you & for the owners of the Rizzoli building. Money gets in the way of almost everything, doesn't it? I will so miss the opportunity of meeting you.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Such disappointing news.
Try to get to Parnassus in Nashville. That's one great independent that still up and thriving. I bet anything they'd jump at the chance to have you! xoxo

Duchesse said...

I too found Rizzoli magical and am so happy I bought a copy of Joseph Mitchell's "Up in the Old Hotel" there last spring, as a gift for a friend. Sad for you, for the owners and for all of us who loved that beautiful book store.

Sandy at You May Be Wandering said...

It is so sad to see one of the great bookstores go...I still miss the old Scribner's on 5th Avenue.

Also, sorry you won't be doing a reading in NYC...I was hoping to be there!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tish,

Have read about the demolition of the Rizzoli Bookstore for a while. What a shame! Would love to meet you and wondered if your publicist has contacted Barnes & Noble for a book signing? If you can guarantee 100 people, I would think that the store would definitely want you to present your book.
Best, Cynthia

Anonymous said...

Wanted to add B&N has a couple of ideal locations in NYC.
Cynthia

Young at Heart said...

oh how sad....on so many levels...I remember the store well!!

peggybraswell said...

Rizzoli is always " go to", on NYC + such a loss!xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

Kaitlyn said...

This breaks my heart. I signed the petition to try and save the store...I hate that we are losing this beautiful store, and we are losing the places where we can buy our books. It would have been amazing to come visit you in NYC and see you in that setting. I'm sorry you won't have the opportunity for the signing.

Debbie Freitag said...

So sad to hear of the closing of this store. I hope you will be coming to Chicago although I am not even sure we have anymore bookstores around town.

Diane S. said...

So sad! Can you imagine the French demolishing Shakespeare & Co to build a residential tower? No! Even our cities are disposable in our throw-away culture here in the U.S. Witness New Orleans and the devastation still there after Katrina - neighborhoods, shopping strips and big box retail just abandoned, written off by the parent companies. For it to happen to a beautiful place like Rizzoli makes me feel sad and sick.

That's Not My Age said...

Another lovely book shop closes, it's such a shame.

helen tilston said...

Dear Tish

How sad that another landmark is gone.
I am sorry to see a haven for art and literature disappear.
I wish you success in finding a new venue

Helen xx

helen tilston said...

Dear Tish

How sad that another landmark is gone.
I am sorry to see a haven for art and literature disappear.
I wish you success in finding a new venue

Helen xx

Emm said...

So sorry to hear this. A similar fate for the old Scribner's store on Fifth, which had similar architecture. New York has a sad history of trashing some of its most iconic structures.

Hope you get a booksigning elsewhere. And more copies printed, please!

Heather Robinson said...

Oh no! I am very, very sad to read that yes "my beloved Rizzoli" bookstore is going. It breaks my heart. It was like a temple for me. And to imagine you having a reading there was just too perfect. Sorry for you too, Tish...Onward and upward...
Bisous,
H

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

Another bookstore gone just breaks my heart. I really think it is a side effect of technology I absolutely hate. In San Antonio, we have the first all computer library...it is stark white and silver...clean desks, nothing but computers. I am actually embarrassed it is located here...hate it. Sorry this did not happen for you, Tish and so sorry to see the store go.

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

So sorry to hear about this! Such a wonderful store and I was looking forward to attending your book signing!

Oh well this just means that something better is in store for you!

NotesFromAbroad said...

Another bookstore closing in New York City. Something I watched over the years, until now, what is left ? how sad and what a loss .. for people who don't even realize it or care ..
It would have meant so much to you and all the other people who probably had plans too .. everyone loses here but the developers.

Dex Banner said...

Good writing and even a decent writer you are...great blog!

Francine Gardner said...

So sorry...I wished I had known I would have given you a book signing! i have had so many book launches in my showroom Interieurs.

Tish Jett said...

Oh, darn, Francine. That would have been so much fun. I'm thinking about coming back toward the end of the year. I'll let you know and you can tell me how your schedule would work out.

That is very, very kind of you. Thank you so much.

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