Word Up Community Bookshop
While many independent and chain bookstores have been closing nation-wide, CCNY alum Veronica Liu's community bookshop, Word Up, is buzzing with business and culture. Located at Broadway and 176th Street and run by over 60 volunteers, the store hosts readings, music shows, film screenings, workshops, community art projects, and events for kids in English, Spanish, and Russian. “In the past four months, more than 250 people have performed at the space,” Veronica says, “and we have sold or distributed thousands of books to the community.”
Veronica was inspired to open Word Up because she recognized the importance of having a multi-language, general-interest community bookshop in Upper Manhattan. Last June, with the help of Vantage Residential and the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, she negotiated to use a storefront for a month-long “pop-up bookshop.” She opened Word Up within four days of getting the keys. It quickly became clear that a month wasn’t going to cut it: “So many people in the neighborhood…declared that they had been waiting for something like this for 20, 30, 40 years,” Veronica says, “and were hoping that it could stay open forever.” With community support, Word Up has been able to stay open through December, and negotiations are underway to keep the store open permanently. Currently, Word Up is open on weekdays from 4-9pm and weekends from 12-4pm.
Where do they get their inventory? Small presses, individual authors, zinesters, and comic artists from all over the country have mailed or hand-delivered their books to the store to be sold on consignment (Washington Heights and Inwood authors and presses received 100% of their sales for the first three months). Word Up also accepts donations of used books, which are sold at a suggested price.
How can you help? “Participate,” Veronica says, “Come visit, volunteer, organize an event, consign your books.” You can also join the Word Up CSB (community-supported bookshop), and purchase a Word Up “share” in exchange for books. For our MFA community, Veronica encourages aspiring writers to try a zine! Upcoming events include a reading by CCNY’s David Unger on January 11th. You can read more about Word Up and view a full event listing at wordupbooks.com.
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