The employees of the bookstore Bókabúd Máls og menningar (BMM) on Laugavegur 18, Reykjavík’s main shopping street, were informed in mid-February that the store had gone bankrupt. Its doors were shut on February 17.
The Mál og menning bookstore on Laugavegur 18. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
According to Fréttabladid, the owners of Kaupangur, the company which ran BMM, who also owned the store’s facilities, demanded 35 percent higher rent than what others who run comparable stores on Laugavegur have to pay and the high rent contributed to BMM’s bankruptcy.
Kaupangur bought the building where the store was operated in 2007. At that time a bookstore run by Penninn-Eymundsson operated there. After Penninn’s bankruptcy in 2009, New Kaupthing, now Arion Bank, took over the operations.
Subsequently, Kaupangur’s representatives wanted to increase the monthly rent from ISK 1.8 to 3.4 million (USD 15,000-29,000, EUR 11,000-21,000) but Penninn’s executives did not accept these terms and moved to Skólavördustígur.
Kaupangur’s owners, Jóhannes Sigurdsson and Bjarki Júlíusson, then decided to continue operating a bookstore in the building. Sigurdsson would not comment to Fréttabladid on the rent.
In an earlier interview on visir.is, Sigurdsson said nothing has been decided on the future of Laugavegur 18. Although he would prefer seeing a bookstore there it doesn’t seem likely because of the current economic environment.