Bob Contant, one of the owners of the embattled and indebted bookseller, told DNAinfo New York Wednesday that an auction scheduled for Feb. 10 had been postponed to Feb. 17. At the time, he said proceeds would be directed to Baker & Taylor, a major book distributor the bookstore owes about $15,000.
Last year, Baker & Taylor successfully sued St. Mark’s for unpaid bills, as reported by Bedford + Bowery, which Contant said accumulated as the shop ran into financial difficulties.
But Contant said that late on Thursday, Baker & Taylor expressed a desire to settle the matter through other means.
That was confirmed by David K. Cully, an executive with the distributor, who wrote in an email that the company "is not pursing a marshal’s sale at this time."
"From the outset, Baker & Taylor has worked very hard to find a reasonable — and mutually agreeable — solution to this matter," Cully wrote. "Baker & Taylor would like nothing better than for St. Mark’s to remain in business and work out solutions to its problems."
St. Mark's half-price, cash-only sale continued Thursday, though the store's opening was delayed due to a problem with its computer system.
Despite Thursday's developments, the financial challenges facing St. Mark’s run deeper than those connected to the distributor. The bookshop still owes the city about $68,000 in back rent, and was recently slapped by the state with a $34,400 tax lien, as reported by Bedford + Bowery.
Contant said he hopes to work out an acceptable tax payment plan with the state. Regarding his rent bill, the owner confirmed that local real estate investor Charles Fitzgerald has expressed interest in taking over St. Mark's lease, a possibility reported by The Awl.
That scenario could involve Fitzgerald starting a new bookstore in St. Mark's footprint, or allowing the company to remain as his tenant under more favorable rent terms.
But Contant said he also needs a financial backer willing to rebuild his inventory, which has been further emptied during the store's ongoing sale.
"We're just depleted completely," he said. "The only way the bookstore is going to survive is by being fully stocked."
Despite St. Mark's ongoing challenges, Contant said the sale's success has shown that "there's a serious audience for books," a reason why the store's closure would represent "a cultural loss to the East Village, to New York City and to the world of books."
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story indicated that a Marshals Auction was set for Feb. 17. The story has been updated to reflect the auction was put on hold for the moment.