After celebrating its one-year anniversary on June 17, Word Up, the all-volunteer bookstore collective in the Washington Heights section of New York City, lost its month-to-month lease and has to find a new space. Word Up sent out a store newsletter announcing the news the same week that Hue-Man Bookstore & Café in Harlem said that it, too, had lost its lease and was exploring what form its store would take.
Word Up, however, is clear that it would like to stay in Washington Heights and have as short a hiatus as possible while it looks for a space similar to the one it is vacating: 1,000 sq. ft. with room for a stage and storage. That’s quite a change from Word Up’s original goal as a week-long pop-up for the 2011 Uptown Arts Stroll.
Over the course of the past year, this joint project of Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and Seven Stories Institute has become a community bookstore that caters to its English-, Spanish-, and Russian-speaking neighborhood and sells books by local authors and presses. Word Up has hosted hundreds of events, ranging from a reading with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz to a performance by jazz great Marjorie Eliot, and a neighborhood discussion with the Columbia University Group for Community Recovery.