Lin-Manuel Miranda rescues endangered New York bookstore

Actor/playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda attends "Mary Poppins Returns" hosted by The Cinema Society at SVA Theater on Dec. 17, 2018, in New York.
Actor/playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda attends “Mary Poppins Returns” hosted by The Cinema Society at SVA Theater on Dec. 17, 2018, in New York.
(Mike Coppola / Getty Images)

Lin-Manuel Miranda is not throwing away his shot at becoming a bookstore owner.

The composer and playwright, whose musical “Hamilton” became a worldwide phenomenon after its Broadway debut in 2015, teamed up with three of his friends to buy the Drama Book Shop in Manhattan, the New York Times reports.

The store has long been a stalwart of New York’s theater community. It was founded in 1917, according to the store’s website, and has changed locations several times. The bookseller moved to its current space on West 40th Street in 2001. The shop won a special Tony Award in 2011.

The store’s last day on West 40th will be Jan. 20, after which it will move to a new location, which hasn’t yet been disclosed.

Miranda told the New York Times that the store was important to him, and noted he wrote much of “In the Heights,” his first musical, in the store’s basement, which is also home to a 50-seat theater.


“When I was in high school I would go to the old location and sit on the floor and read plays — I didn’t have the money to buy them,” Miranda said.

Along with Miranda, the store’s new owners include the director of “Hamilton,” Thomas Kail, and one of the play’s producers, Jeffrey Seller. James L. Nederlander, a New York theater operator, is also a new co-owner.

The store’s previous owner, Rozanne Seelen, told the New York Times that she was grateful to the new owners, whom she called her “white knights.”

“It’s the chronic problem — the rents were just too high, and I’m 84 years old — I just didn’t have the drive to find a new space and make another move,” Seelen said.

After the store’s 2011 Tony win, Seelen reflected on her long association with the store and its place in the New York theater community.

“It’s something that belongs to the community,” Seelen told Backstage magazine. “It’s the community that’s made it possible for us to win this award. The people who have worked for us, the people that come in the door — they’re the ones that should be getting the award, because they’ve kept us going.”

On Twitter, Miranda shared the news of his purchase, as well as a photograph of him with actor Christopher Jackson in front of the bookstore in 2002.