Revolution Books is the latest New York City bookstore to be forced out of its neighborhood because of rising rent. The Chelsea store is facing a move similar to those forced upon Rizzoli (which reopened in NoMad earlier this week), St. Mark’s Bookshop and Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks.
Ironically, Revolution has found a new, slightly larger home because of the situation. The store is relocating to Harlem, a community once served by Hue-Man. (Hue-Man lost the lease for its bricks-and-mortar store three summers ago, after a rent increase, and now has an online presence along with frequent pop-ups.)
Revolution, which was forced to close its 1,100 sq. ft. Chelsea store at the end of May, plans to reopen in mid-September, just after Labor Day. Its new store will occupy 1,450 sq. ft.
The only catch for the 37-year-old radical bookstore is that it needs to raise $150,000. That’s a potentially large nut, and the $30,000 Indiegogo campaign that Revolution kicked off at the Harlem Book Fair earlier this month is moving slowly. In its first week and a half, the campaign raised $4,300.
But financial hurdles haven’t diminished the determination of the members of the bookstore collective. “Yes, Revolution Books is going to re-open. The ‘if’ in all of that is that we have to raise the money. We’re in a fight. We will win that battle. We’re not going to let [the bookstore] go away,” said spokesperson Andy Zee.
According to Zee, Revolution has already raised $75,000 from donors and lenders. It plans to mobilize support over the summer by distributing palm cards to potential donors and by setting up selling tables at area festivals.
For Zee the move to Harlem, which has a legacy of political struggle and intellectual ferment, is a good thing. Moving into a larger space is also a plus. His hope is that the new store, which will add a coffee bar and a lending library, will become more of a drop-in center for the community.