Ten-year-old Hue-Man Bookstore and Café in New York City is the latest bookstore to close its physical space in order to reinvent itself. It has begun liquidating inventory and selling fixtures; its last day in its current location will be July 31. Last April, when CEO Marva Allen was in the midst of trying to renegotiate her lease, she told PW: “We’re going to be around somewhere, somehow.”
In an open letter to the Harlem community, Allen laid out those plans as she explained her decision to close the bricks-and-mortar store. “We all know that there is a season for everything under heaven and the season of ‘traditional book’ selling has come to a close,” wrote Allen. “Closing the existing format of Hue-Man is forward thinking on our part and as we take pause to re-imagine the future of books and how to ensure that their purpose of entertaining, imparting knowledge and honing creativity is preserved, we find no viable alternative but to go back to the drawing board.” With her lease ending, Allen noted that "there is no way to re-imagine the bookstore of the future in our current space."
Going forward Hue-Man will continue to hold events. In addition to maintaining the July events schedule, Allen promised one on September 6 with Miami Heat Dwayne Wade in a state-of-the-art facility. Customers will be able to contact the store through its Hue-Man Web site, which will offer deep discounts for the next three months, starting August 1. The store phone number, Facebook, and Twitter accounts will all remain unchanged.
Across the country in Menlo Park, Calif., Kepler's Books closed yesterday for the summer as part of its program to become a non-profit organization.