The end of the Revolution in Chelsea

AROUNDDEBY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC   |   Revolution Books needs your help.

The bookstore, which has been located at 146 W. 26 St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves. since 2008, has lost its lease and is looking to raise $150,000 for a new spot, explained C. Clark Kissinger, the store’s manager.

When the bookstore’s five-year lease came to an end, he said, the landlord let them stay on a month-by-month basis at below market rate until he could find a long-term tenant that he liked. That tenant has been found and the bookstore has until the end of this month, he said.

“We couldn’t afford to stay here,” Kissinger said at the store, which held an emergency meeting May 7.

Revolution Books has always been a destination bookstore — people search for it due to its categories such as U.S. History, Revolutionary Theory, Women and Libros en Español as well as a wide selection of material — and the nexus of subway lines in Chelsea has always been helpful.

“The neighborhood has changed” Kissinger said, adding, “other parts of the city are more appropriate.”

The not-for-profit bookstore first opened in 1978. It has had several locations before settling in Chelsea, mostly notably near Union Square at W. 19th St. for 13 years, said Kissinger.

“This is an important resource for the metropolitan area,” he said. “We think we have a new place. We have to raise a lot of money to make this possible.”

Downtown Express photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic  Revolution Books will close at the end of May with hopes of moving to Harlem.

Downtown Express photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
Revolution Books will close at the end of May with hopes of moving to Harlem.

The emergency meeting was a rallying cry to enlist as much help as possible for their fundraising drive and move. As it is a not-for-profit endeavor, people cannot invest in it, and so the bookstore is calling “on people who feel this kind of store needs to be in the mix,” said Kissinger.

“I was always glad it was here,” said Sylvia Mendel, who has lived in Chelsea for 11 years.

The bookstore’s disappearance gets at a deeper problem, she said, and “it is just another sadness.”

“I think we all know why we’re here tonight,” said Andy Zee at the start of the meeting.

It is to turn a bad thing into a good thing by raising enough money to relocate the store, he said, and “to ask ourselves, do we really need this store?”

Yes, he declared, before announcing that the store is moving to Harlem.

“Harlem is where Revolution Books should be,” said Zee, who noted the neighborhood’s history of art and activism. “To make this real requires serious money. It is a lot of money for people like us.”

The $150,000 is needed now for a new lease, to take care of past obligations and to renovate and set up the bookstore at the new location, he said.

He tied the bookstore, whose members had participated in Occupy Wall Street, to current issues — what happened in Baltimore, the #BlackLivesMatter movement and sexual assault and said, “No other bookstore is dedicated to this mission.”

Revolution Books will start an Indiegogo campaign in June to raise $40,000 to $50,000, said Zee.

There is much to be done to pack up the store and then shelve the new one — as well as plan a party that will announce the new store.

K. Osburn, 19, knows how she will pitch in. She recently moved to Brooklyn from Los Angeles and frequently comes to Revolution Books. A film student at New York Film Academy, she will volunteer to edit the testimonial video of people who support the bookstore.

Revolution Books / Libros Revolución, 146 W. 26th St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.), needs volunteers.

Call 212-691-33455 or visit

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