Updated 07/06/2012 12:51 PM
Owner To Close Harlem Bookstore
Harlem residents are bidding farewell to a neighborhood staple closing its doors later this month, as the owner of Hue-Man Bookstore and Cafe on Frederick Douglass Boulevard says the season of traditional bookselling is coming to an end. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.
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Marva Allen took pen and paper and made a list to help her make a difficult decision.
"Put on one side the reasons to keep the store open and the other side, the reasons to close the store," she said.
In the end, she decided to close her Hue-Man Bookstore and Cafe, a fixture on Frederick Douglass Boulevard for nearly a decade.
While rising rents have forced some stores in the changing neighborhood to shut their doors, that is not the case with the Hue-Man Bookstore. Instead, Allen points to the changing face of the publishing industry.
"10 years from now, the book business will be nothing like it is today," she said. "I didn't want to be locked into a 10-year lease in an obsolete business model."
Allen says Hue-Man will continue selling books online and have "pop-up" events in the community and around the world. Since announcing the store's closing, she has been flooded with reaction from customers.
"It's still giving me heartburn when people walk in here with tears in their eyes or saying 'please don't go,'" she said.
"This has been an institution in our community," said customer Donald Brown. "In fact, this is a very strong black institution and it's very sad to learn of its closing."
Literary Agent Regina Brooks has arranged book signings at Hue-Man for authors she represents. She and Allen are also partners in a publishing venture.
"I am very, very disappointed that the bookstore is closing," she said. "But I do believe that Marva and Hue-Man Bookstore is going to come up with very innovative ways for us still to connect as people and especially around literature."
As she looks to the future, Marva Allen says she has not ruled out the possibility of opening up another store here in Harlem.
For now, Allen is trying not to think too much about the final day here.
"It always seems okay until reality comes," she said. "I don't know. I don't know how I'm going to feel. I really don't. I've been putting that key in the door for a long time."
It's a door she will have to lock for the last time on July 31.