WNBA Neighborhood Lunch and Visit to St. Mark’s Bookshop

On Thursday, October 2nd, 10 women from the NYC Chapter of the WNBA met for a Neighborhood Lunch at Mitali East and for a tour of the new location of St. Mark’s Bookshop (http://www.stmarksbookshop.com/) at 136 East Third Street in the East Village.

The conversations ranged from books to the WNBA to personal stories about life and writing—all shared over delicious dishes of vegetable curry and biryani! Stacy Wells, a Pace MS in Publishing graduate student and new volunteer for the NYC chapter said that she “was in awe of all the successful women that she was surrounded by. These women have some of the most amazing and interesting personal stories, and it was an honor to be able to hear some of their stories” Our neighborhood lunches are a wonderful way to meet other members and to network and we hope more members will join us in the future.photo 3

Marilyn Berkman, longtime WNBA member and one the WNBA’s UN Representatives, has a personal relationship with St. Mark’s as her husband, Bob Contant, is one of the original founders of the store and is currently the sole proprietor of the bookshop. The store, established in 1977 in New York City, is the oldest independent book store in Manhattan which is still owned by the original owners. The shop specializes in literature, with highlight on small presses, cultural and critical theory, graphic design, poetry and film studies, with a section on anarchists. It features a large selection of periodicals and journals, including foreign titles. In response its new community, the store has expanded its children’s book section.


When asked why he opened the shop all those years ago, Mr. Contant said, “We worked for an absentee owner who would come in, cash out the till, and leave. We pretty much thought, “if we’re doing it for him, why can’t we do it for ourselves?” So Bob and three of his co-workers decided to pool together their resources and open up a shop at 13 St. Mark’s Place. Back then, the rent was only $375 a month making it much easier to succeed in the bookselling business.

A visit to St. Mark’s Bookshop gives one a different perspective on the book buying experience. The intimate environment of the beautiful store and the interesting selection of books make it a destination stop. St. Mark’s Bookshop is a community-based bookstore that adheres to the independent spirit of the East Village and depends on the community for its survival. Free readings and other events are supported through tax-deductible donations (go to the store’s website or www.fracturedatlas.org).

Thank you to Bob Contant for showing us the new St. Mark’s Bookshop. We all went home with some great books to read.


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About Blog Editor

The Women’s National Book Association was founded in 1917 by female booksellers who weren’t allowed in the men’s organizations. Nearly 100 years later, the WNBA is still supporting women in the book industry through literary events, networking, literacy projects, workshops, open mic nights, book clubs, and many other entertaining programs throughout the season!

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