EAST HARLEM — La Casa Azul Bookstore is dumping its brick and mortar for cyberspace.
The bookseller, which has been on 103rd Street near Lexington Avenue since June 2012, is closing its doors Saturday, according to a statement from the owner Aurora Anaya-Cerda.
“In order to take the vision from La Casa Azul Bookstore to the next level, we have decided to re-design our business model to increase our social impact as a bookstore, community space, and performing arts center,” Anaya-Cerda wrote on the store's website.
Details of what the new version of La Casa Azul Bookstore will look like remains unclear. Anaya-Cerda declined to elaborate on the specifics like where the new location will be and how the business will be restructured.
She did confirm that the physical space on 103rd Street will close. They will stay active on their social media accounts. They will still sell books online through their website, and the bookstore will “pop up” at local schools and cultural venues around the city, she said.
Over the years, the bookstore has hosted more than 600 events like readings, workshops, exhibits and classroom visits that have attracted award-winning authors like Junot Diaz.
Oftentimes, the events were so popular that there was not enough room in the small bookstore for all of the guests, said Joe Rogers who remembers attending the grand opening.
“It was real exciting when they opened,” he said. “It was a place where folks could congregate around reading, writing, community and culture. It’s just been such a great complement to all of the other literacy efforts in Harlem from east to west.”
Rogers, founder of Total Equity Now, organizers an annual literacy march through the neighborhood. For three years, the march has started at Casa Azul, he said.
The store’s last day will be Saturday, Dec. 19.
“The bookstore will evolve to encompass a larger social mission of community engagement, the arts and literacy,” she said. “I am looking forward to our next chapter.”