[Marxism] L.A. bookshop focused on African Americans may close
walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Oct 5 08:46:45 MDT 2007
>From the Los Angeles Times
L.A. bookshop focused on African Americans may close
Eso Won has been host to presidents, candidates and entertainers,
but the independent bookseller finds it hard to compete with chains, Internet.
By John L. Mitchell
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 5, 2007
When President Bill Clinton flew into town in 2004 and needed a spot
to sit for a few hours and sign a few hundred books, he chose Eso Won
bookstore. Sen. Barack Obama and singer Patti Labelle have signed
their books in the same store.
Eso Won has grown famous by hosting book-signings by nationally
recognized figures and entertainers seeking to pitch memoirs, but it
hasn't grown prosperous.
After 20 years of hawking books -- some by popular authors; others,
scholarly works, with rare and exotic titles -- L.A.'s leading
independent bookstore specializing in writings by African Americans
is facing bankruptcy.
Indeed, Eso Won may be closing its doors by the end of the year.
"We are suffering from what other independent bookstores have found
-- that it's tough to compete against the Internet and the big
chains," said James Fugate, a co-owner of the Leimert Park store.
News of Eso Won's difficulties has sparked an outpouring of support.
On Sunday, the pastor at the 19,000-member First African Methodist
Episcopal Church will urge parishioners at all three services to buy
books at the store.
"It is essential that we support businesses that educate, enlighten
and help perpetuate our culture," said Pastor John J. Hunter.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, an author and political analyst who heads the
Urban Policy Roundtable, said his organization would urge people to
patronize the store. "We just want people to go to the store and buy
books -- buy one for yourself or give one as a gift," Hutchinson
"Eso Won has stood the test of time. It has gone beyond just being a
bookstore. It has sunk solid ties in our community."
This week Hutchinson kicked off his buy-books campaign by purchasing
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' new book, "My Grandfather's
Encouraged by calls to help their struggling establishment, Fugate
and Thomas Hamilton, the store's other co-owner, welcome the help,
but also see the likelihood of closing as something they may not be
able to avoid. "If people decide they don't want us, then it's time
for us to leave," Hamilton said.
Eso Won's book-signings have been major events, some even major coups
like the 2004 visit by Clinton.
"Clinton told all his friends he wanted them to meet him at Eso Won,"
Fugate said. "James Hahn came by, the president of Honda came, and
Clinton's brother came. They were the nicest people.
"Then when Clinton walked in, he said he wanted to do something to
help an independent bookstore and that he was happy to be here,"
In several hours of furious signing, the bookstore sold more than
1,800 copies of the former president's book "My Life," a record for
And that was more than double the number of books sold by former O.J.
Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden during a visit at the store in
But despite successful appearances by Obama and others, Thomas and
Fugate said that sales had become progressively worse and the
bookstore has barely managed to stay afloat.
john.mitchell at latimes.com
Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable
614 E. Manchester Blvd. Suite 204
October 4, 2007
Announces Launch of
Operation Eso Won Book Buy
African-Americans repeatedly say that they must support black owned
businesses and institutions. They rail against “white” and non-black
owned business raking in profits from the community and putting
nothing back in—that is no services, jobs, or enrichment. Here’s a
chance to back up the talk and complaint with action. Eso Won
Bookstore has been a cultural and intellectual treasure for two
decades in Los Angeles. It has provided literary and intellectual
fuel for thought and action on the burning issues that impact
African-Americans. But it faces crisis, a crisis of support or lack
It could close without that support and then what we would have?
On Friday, October 5 at 10:00 AM, the Los Angeles Urban Policy
Roundtable will launch Operation Eso Won Book Buy. The campaign will
run through Monday October 8.
Operation Eso Won Book Buy has these three goals:
1. To get everyone that cares about the survival of a truly
independent black institution to buy at least two books (give one as
2. Urge relatives, friends and associates to buy or gift give a book
3. Pledge to buy at least one book a month or quarter from Eso Won
The Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable will Launch Operation Eso Won
Book Buy on Friday October 5 at 10AM with a purchase of $200.00 worth
Earl Ofari Hutchinson
President, Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable
Please Forward This Appeal to a friend or your elist!
Eso Won Books
4331 Degnan Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90008 323-290-1048
http://esowon.booksense.com email: esowon at sbcglobal.net
writer - photographer - activist
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