So far, 2019 is turning out to be a good year for New York’s independent book stores. First, there was the news that McNally Jackson may be staying put in its longtime Nolita outpost, after a move was announced last fall.
And today, the New York Times reports that the Drama Book Shop, a beloved Midtown institution for a century, has also been saved from imminent doom—by none other than award-winning Hamilton writer/composer (and generally delightful human being) Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The store, which was facing a hike on its monthly rent of $20,000, will close its current location on West 40th Street in the heart of the Theater District, on January 20; it’ll reopen later this year at a location that has yet to be disclosed. Miranda bought the store from its current owner, Rozanne Seelen, along with his collaborators Tommy Kail, who directed Hamilton; Jeffrey Seller, the show’s lead producer; and James Nederlander, president of the theater chain.
As a teen, I went to the @dramabookshop on 47th. Spent hours reading plays. Felt made for me, a place to go.— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) January 8, 2019
In 2002, I met with Tommy Kail in the Drama Book Shop. It gave us a place to go.
Proud to be part of this next chapter.
A place for you to go. https://t.co/LuRJjVM72K
Seelen called the group her “white knights,” telling the Times that “It’s the chronic problem —the rents were just too high, and I’m 84 years old—I just didn’t have the drive to find a new space and make another move.”
The team will also get some help from the city: According to the Times, the De Blasio administration will help them find an affordable space for the new iteration of the Drama Book Shop. Details on what that may entail haven’t yet been made public.
Had it shuttered entirely, the Drama Book Shop would have joined other indie booksellers that have closed in recent years, including St. Mark’s Bookshop, Oscar Wilde Bookshop, and BookCourt (not to mention the slow death of chains like Borders and Barnes & Noble). But things aren’t entirely dire for bookstores: Shakespeare & Company plans to open a new Greenwich Village shop, Books Are Magic is thriving in Carroll Gardens, the Lit. Bar is coming soon to the Bronx, and McNally will have a small outpost in LaGuardia Airport later this year.