By Mike Fitelson. Reprinted from The Manhattan Times.
[Update: Word Up’s free “lease,” donated by Vantage Residential, was extended until the end of November 2011, and in January 2012, with support from NoMAA, Word Up signed an agreement to keep the pop-up bookstore open until May 2012. Read more about it. To keep Word Up open permanently, please join the Word Up CSB.]If you’ve ever bemoaned Washington Heights’ lack of bookstores, you’ve got one month to show your support for “Word Up,” a community bookstore orchestrated by locals that will occupy a vacant Broadway storefront from June 17 to July 14.
A dedicated troupe of writers, bloggers, publishers, and artists have begun filling the former pharmacy at 4157 Broadway near W. 175th Street will all manner of books, comics, posters, and other printed material in time for Friday’s grand opening.
The space is owned by Vantage Residential; the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance helped broker the arrangement and is sponsoring Word Up as part of the Uptown Arts Stroll; Fractious Press and Seven Stories Institute is coordinating the happening.
The space will be open from 4 to 9 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 p.m. on weekends and will host readings, performances, workshops, and talks with local writers and presses.
Books will be sold on consignment, with local authors and presses retaining 100 percent of their sales and others keeping a percentage.
Based mostly on electronic word of mouth, hundreds of boxes of books have begun arriving from around the city and far off locales like Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. Spanish language and children’s books will also be on sale.The idea of the bookstore grew out of a conversation between Veronica Liu, of Fractious Press and Seven Stories Institute and a DJ on Washington Heights Free Radio, and Diana Caba and Sandra Garcia Betancourt of NoMAA during a reading in February.
“I’d been thinking about submitting an event listing for a one-day book fair/festival during the Arts Stroll, but then in the course of my talking to Diana, so many ideas rolled out that by the end of the conversation it had turned into a whole store that would be open for more than one day,” Liu said. “I hope that a pop-up bookshop could lay the groundwork for a more permanent store later.”
Vantage owns over a dozen buildings in Northern Manhattan and last year partnered with NoMAA to transform three of its empty commercial spaces into temporary galleries.
“Vantage is thrilled to be donating physical space for the first Word Up Book Exhibition,” said Raquel Batista, vice-president of corporate responsibility for Vantage. “Vantage had a great experience last fall working with Sandra Betancourt and NOMAA on promoting visual artists, now in the summer we get to support the work of local writers.”
Word Up seeks printed products to sell, furniture (shelves, chairs, tables, wire racks) to borrow, and volunteers to host events and staff the store.
Visit wordupbooks.com for additional information or email info[at]fractiouspress.com to volunteer.