20 Aug 2014
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No. 89: Book Revue

From toddler story time to first date night to meet-the-author events, this independent book store caters to reading needs.

It’s a Huntington institution as well as a destination for everyone from the diaper set to those looking for a pleasant way to cap off the evening after a movie and dinner downtown.

an independent book store at 313 New York Ave. in Huntington village, has been a fixture since it opened in 1977. It has expanded five times over the years, and some may remember the parking lot that used to be where its children’s section is now.

The store offers a café, sofas, chairs and benches for visitors to sit and browse through an anticipated purchase, numerous author visits for book signings and an events calendar that includes hosting a writers’ workshop monthly and toddler story hour each Tuesday morning at 11.

“We come here all the time after dinner and before we get ice cream,” said Jeanne Rakoczy of Huntington, who was there with her daughter, Ava, 4, and husband, John. Ava took a small detour to look at books, but then headed straight for the bus in the children’s section, climbing in to drive and insisting her mom get in the back. Dad had to fold his legs and take a turn as well.

“My sister loves this store, too,” John Rakoczy said. “She lives in Toledo and loves to come here every time she visits. She stocks up.”

The Rakoczys were one of several families who stopped in to browse after dinner and before grabbing ice cream or frozen yogurt from one of the nearby stores.

Five-year-old Billy Alexander headed for the dinosaur books and demanded side effects from dad Bill as they leafed through the book. They sat on one sofa across from mom Meghan and little sister Mackenzie, 3, who was intent on the story she was hearing. “We love it here,” said Meghan Alexander.

It was a busy weekday evening, with browsers drifting in and out and a large group showing up to attend the free Writers’ Workshop the store hosts. Kids scampered through with parents in tow.

Constance Barley sat on a sofa, listening to Neal Lieberman read passages from one of Diana Gabaldron’s Outlander books, “An Echo in the Bone.” “We had dinner at the House of India and came here to relax and digest,” Barley said. “It’s got a unique personality – you don’t feel that stiffness you sometimes get.”

Lucinda Ambriano of Lloyd Harbor had her daughters and a friend in tow as she checked out. “We come here a lot. It’s good for all ages,” she said. “I brought them here when they were little and they’d play on the train and I’d read them books. Now we come and they browse.”

The book store has a strong line-up of author visits – just in the next month scheduled visits include former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, Southern chef brothers Jamie and Bobby Deen, actor Dick Van Dyke, and New York Jets coach Rex Ryan. Past visitors have included reality TV personality , Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling, former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and local favorite Jodi Picoult, whose new book signings are so popular the venue has moved to the local Huntington High School auditorium to accommodate the overflow crowd.

In addition to a large children’s section, the store sells new releases, mysteries and art books, calendars, bookmarks and note cards, along with classics and used books. It offers discounts to book groups who register and buy their selections through the store. It also hosts its own book group and provides space to book groups who want to meet there. It offers a customer appreciation program as well, and staff sends out a monthly newsletter updating the event schedule.

Despite the sign in the window advertising the space as being available, the Book Revue isn’t going anywhere for the immediate future, said Robert Klein, who along with his brother, Richard, owns the store. “We’re at the unfortunate intersection of Amazon, ebooks and our new landlord who’s insisting on full rent and isn’t willing to compromise,” Klein said. “We’re exploring our options. Nothing is imminent, we’re still buying books, we’ll be here for the year.”

Richard Klein said the new landlord is Emerson J. Dobbs, whose commercial real estate company recently bought the building. The store had been paying reduced rent in light of economic conditions, Klein said.

Ripco Real Estate is helping the Kleins check out their options, he said. When contacted at the number listed on the sign, Ripco had no comment. On its web site, Ripco lists the property as being available for $253,566 net for a 27-year lease, with no rent increase. Sale price is listed at $1.5 million.

Book Revue is open 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

Stay tuned for No. 88 next week, same time same place, as Huntington Patch explores the places and activities in town.

Note: The story was amended to clarify that Dobbs is the landlord and is not affiliated with Ripco.

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