A Literary Dream — en Espanol — Comes True in Harlem

La Casa Azul in El Barrio, Spanish language bookstore, opened on June 1, after a world-wide fundraising project. (Photo via EDLP)

Last October we first met Aurora Anaya Cerda when her dream of opening the first Spanish language bookstore in East Harlem was just that — a dream. But on June 1, that dream came true when Anaya Cerda opened La Casa Azul on 103rd Street in El Barrio. Our friends at Feet in Two Worlds were on hand to cover the story, and below is a translation from Spanish of El Diario La Prensa‘s article.

While Aurora Anaya Cerda was finalizing the details for the June 1 opening of her bookstore, La Casa Azul, in Manhattan’s El Barrio neighborhood, she recounted the reasons for her undertaking one by one. The bookstore became a reality thanks to donations from nearly 500 people across the globe.

In October of 2011, when her 40-day fundraising campaign ended on the website IndieGogo, Anaya Cerda had already collected $32,000 in donations. Donors came from as far away as South Korea. IndieGogo gave Anaya Cerda even more hope, after many users of the website requested that the company extend the deadline to raise $40,000. IndieGogo gave Anaya Cerda another 7 days, during which she managed to raise the rest of the $8,000 she needed to reach her goal.

“IndieGogo had never received requests to prolong a campaign,” Anaya Cerda said proudly. Anaya Cerda, an educator born in East Los Angeles, applied for loans from banks, but they rejected her because they said her idea “would not have adequate community support.”

Anaya Cerda said that the landlord of the space for the bookstore, located on 103rd Street, gave her more time to finish the lease and contributed to the campaign. A lawyer reviewed the legal documents for free, and others offered their professional services. Ikea donated some of the furniture, and publishing companies donated new and used books that will be sold at the new bookstore.

In an age when technology is transforming the publishing business, Anaya Cerda doesn’t get discouraged when it comes to brainstorming ways to ensure the community’s support.

“El Barrio doesn’t have a bookstore like this one, which will also be a cultural center where we will present literary gatherings, exhibitions, concerts, and movies,” Anaya Cerda explained.

Anaya Cerda created La Casa Azul as an online business in 2008, and is the Family Programs & Cultural Celebrations Manager at El Museo del Barrio. Her dream is for La Casa Azul to become a meeting place that will attract writers, artists, literature and art enthusiasts — Latino and of other nationalities — who make a living in this part of Manhattan.

“I want this bookstore to be a platform for local artists that aren’t so well-known,” said Anaya Cerda.

To make that dream a reality, Anaya Cerda has organized a long list of events, including an afternoon for young children; readings by Nicolasa Mohr, one of the talented writers born in El Barrio; and a presentation by Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, who will read excerpts from her book about Latino innovators in the field of the “green economy.”

Readers can access the list of upcoming events on the website www.lacasaazulbookstore.com.

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