Hue-Man Bookstore & Café wasn’t a giant brand recognized nationwide. But it held its own in Harlem as an outlet for African American literature. Now after almost ten years in business, WNYC announces that the Harlem Bookstore will have to close its doors. CEO Marva Allen says interest in books haven’t waned, in fact her sales saw a 37 percent increase this year. But rising rents on Frederick Douglass Boulevard make it impossible to continue.
“The gentrification of the neighborhood…doesn’t seem to take consideration of the small businesses in the neighborhood, and/or the people who have been in the neighborhood,” she said to WNYC. Allen also mentioned she believed the high lease rates were “somewhat predatory.”
But booklovers shouldn’t see the closing as permanent shut down. Allen says she hopes to reboot the brand and create a business model that includes new technology.
“There are people who are going to want to read books, and there are people who are going to want to read e-books, and as an industry, I mean, it is the onus to try to figure out what is that balance,” Allen said to WNYC.
Allen says that her store will also maintain an online presence and conduct “pop-up” book signings and other various events in Harlem that she hopes will keep people interested in Hue-Man.
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