Letter: Farewell to the Book Revue, a Mainstay of Huntington Life

To the Editor:

Many residents have reached out to me following the announcement of the September 30th
closing of Book Revue in Huntington Village.

While the news is heartbreaking, it’s been heartwarming to see the universal outpouring of
support and affection for this iconic independent Huntington Village bookstore.

I reached out to and spoke with both Bob Klein and Richard Klein, the brothers that have long
owned and operated this store. It was at that time I learned that Bob had retired from Book
Revue a year and a half earlier, leaving Richard the sole owner of the business.

Like those who wrote to me, the idea of Huntington without Book Revue was unthinkable, and I
was driven to help find an answer.

Both Klein brothers expressed gratitude for the love and loyalty the community has shown them
over their 43 years in the bookselling business. And, they are deeply touched by the
overwhelming public response to the news of the store’s closing.

Richard was emphatic that he was not looking to solicit funds from any sources but was
nonetheless appreciative of such kind and generous gestures from so many. He explained that
when the pandemic forced Book Revue to close, they lost the events that were necessary to
keep the store going, events that as of even now, still have not come back.

Given the deadline Richard faces, he does not have the luxury of time to recultivate the events
that are the life blood of his store. That, and the fact that the current rent more than doubled
from what Book Revue was paying just before the pandemic hit, left me to face the bleakness of
the situation. When I offered my assistance to help Richard find an alternate location that was
more manageable, he replied that the idea was too much for him to consider at his age and
health.

While this is certainly a story none of us want to see end, it occurred to me that our well-intentioned desires to help Book Revue make a comeback against insurmountable obstacles
was also placing an emotional burden on Richard perhaps as heavy as the financial burden he
carries. It is difficult enough to come to such a painful decision to close your longtime business
due to factors outside of your control, and then on top of that, to witness such overwhelming
sadness and disappointment of your customers.

I encouraged those who reached out to me in such sadness to shift their thoughts to a place of
gratitude and celebration for the Klein brothers for having created and sustained, for 43 long
years, this literary oasis in Huntington.

My late parents moved to Huntington in 1961 and were voracious readers and Book Revue
patrons. They encouraged the same of their children. And, my husband and I encouraged our
love of reading with our daughters. We learned that Book Revue was so much more than the
vast array of books that lined its shelves. It was a magical place that allowed us to escape, to
learn, to be inspired, and to be still. That is a rare gift.

Yes, it’s impossible to imagine Huntington Village without Book Revue. Its importance as an
economic multiplier to other village businesses and to our Town is incalculable. As important, it
has been a go-to haven to buy books for ourselves, our loved ones, a place to endlessly browse
the shelves after a wonderful dinner and to attend book signing events and discussions that
brought us in contact with remarkable people we otherwise never would have met.

The last event I attended, just before the pandemic, featured Hollywood icon Diane Keaton who
was debuting her new book “Brother & Sister.” I was beyond thrilled to have been able enjoy a
short but lovely conversation with the very gracious Diane as she signed my book. And, it was
so exciting when in 2008, Book Revue hosted a book signing event for me and my co-author
Ellen Schaffer to discuss the book we wrote chronicling the history of OHEKA Castle in
Huntington.

Indeed, Book Revue has put many unknown authors on the map while it has attracted American
presidents, famous novelists, stage and screen and sports celebrities, among a host of other
luminaries. And in between that, it opened its doors and supported its homegrown Huntington
authors.

I want to publicly thank Richard and Bob for their remarkable business achievement and wish
them the best of health and happiness. It is impossible to find words adequate to thank them
and their wonderful staff for everything they have done for our Town. One way to show our
enduring gratitude is to continue buying books from Book Revue, as so many are doing, until
the very last day.

Like a favorite book, there are beloved institutions in Huntington that have had their beginnings,
middles, and ends. As much as we dread it, we know that we are eventually going to have to
read to the last word and close the cover for the last time.

We are all fortunate for having had the beautiful human experience of being able to have
enjoyed for nearly a half century this incredibly unique “mom and pop” (really brother and
brother) bookstore, that like all of us, has its own natural lifespan.

I am currently exploring the creation of a digital Huntington Village walk of fame to celebrate the
stores we have loved, to remember the proprietors who made them possible and to share their
unique stories. Book Revue is the inspiration for this effort, and I look forward to working with
our Huntington merchants, residents and others to launch this initiative that I hope will also
invite patronage to those businesses remaining, that are still struggling as we continue to pull
out of the pandemic.

Sincerely,
JOAN CERGOL
Councilwoman, Huntington

3 Replies to “Letter: Farewell to the Book Revue, a Mainstay of Huntington Life”

  1. Beautifully written, loving and thoughtful. Taking the moment to reflect and say thank you to the Klein’s for the magical BOOK REVUE… wishing the brothers and their family health and joy in their next chapter. Karen Miller

  2. Thank you for this. Don’t forget Oscar’s Bookstore when you create the digital village walk. There are still plenty of people who treasured that book store, too!

  3. Here was my experience as a local author with Richard and the Revue.

    This is concerning my book “minutes&seconds: the Scientists”. This book deals with the lineage from Newton to Zuckerberg and the changes their creations generated in our society and the world at large. The twenty-eight illustrations in this academic book were selected to be on permanent display in the SUNY Albany Library Media Center. The book has been downloaded 2600 times around the globe. It consists of these twenty-eight original illustrations of scientists from Newton to Zuckerberg detailing the arc of invention and editorial detailing the “what if?” moment for each lineage. Something that I feel has been lost today.

    I happily purchased 6 copies for the Revue. I was informed they would be on display via the local author table. I was also informed that upon sale the Revue kept 50% of cover price for the sale. Remember I had purchased them from my publisher at 50%. So with a cover price of $25 the Revue kept $12.50 and I got $12.50 – basically zero profit for me because I had purchased them for 50% – $12.50 from my publisher. Ok? But on top of that there is a $20 a month fee to display them. Ok??? However every time I went in to see if my book was displayed they never were anywhere to be found.

    So now a recap – no profit – just payment and I never saw the book out of a shelf or table. But this was just my experience. When I asked for them back I was told I owed months of payment for the “display” of the book.

    This may have been just my personal experience as a local author with Richard and the Revue.

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