One of the first Asian American bookstores in the country which gave an opportunity to Asian American authors when others didn’t is closing after 40 years, reports Berkeleyside.
Eastwind books in Berkeley, California has been the go-to bookstore for UC Berkeley students and others looking for books related to Asian American studies and other ethnic studies.
It’s always been a place where new and lesser-known Asian American authors were welcomed to promote their books.
“The books in this store and the programs present the real truth of what Asian Americans have to go through,” said customer Connie Chan to NBC Bay Area.
Activists Harvey and Beatrice Dong took over the bookstore in the 1990s as an extension of their activism.
Harvey teaches in the Ethnic Studies Department at UC Berkeley while Beatrice runs the day-to-day operations of Eastwind.
They plan to continue their legacy online selling books there while also continuing to hold promotional events for authors.
“The physical bookstore will no longer be here, but our mission, giving voice to the community through books and literature will continue,” Harvey Dong said.
The Dongs blame a recent $140 monthly rent, a sign that the two ran the bookstores with low margins.
Celebrities such as Margaret Cho took part in fundraisers in a bid to help save the bookstore.
RELATED: Virtual comedy show featuring Margaret Cho to support Asian American bookstore struggling during the pandemic
AsAmNews offered EastWind heavily discounted ads and agreed to sponsor a book club to help promote the bookstore and sales.
RELATED: AsAmNews joins Eastwind Books and OCA for book club
However, even the discounted ads proved too expensive for Eastwind.
“They stocked all the newest Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies books, at a time when those books were harder to find than they are now,” Hsu Hsu wrote in an email to Berkeleyside. “It was the kind of place where you would always stumble into a great conversation, whether it was Harvey and Bea or another classmate whose professor had sent them to Eastwind for readings.”
“This bookstore, for me, is a continuation of the movement, the activity, the interest, so that part will continue. It’s just that this space, and the lease, won’t be around,” said Harvey.
AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Please consider making a donation and following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. Information about interning, joining the staff or volunteering is here. We are supported by a grant from the California Library Commission and its Stop the Hate program. You can find more resources here.