Bleak House Books to Reopen in Upstate N.Y.

Bleak House Books, which closed its doors in San Po Kong, Hong Kong, in 2021 in the wake of a national security law that "has also forced bookstores and libraries to pull specific titles off their shelves, impacting business," plans to open a new store in Honeoye Falls, N.Y., RADII reported. 

Founded by Albert Wan and Jenny Smith in 2018, Bleak House Books "was beloved by a vibrant community of bibliophiles in Hong Kong, especially consumers of English literature," RADII noted, adding that after the closing last year, the family moved back to the U.S. and settled in the "small sleepy town with just over 700 residents in upstate New York," near Rochester.

Bleak House Books in Hong Kong.

In a post on the booksellers' social media sites earlier this week, Wan and Smith wrote: "One year ago today we announced that Bleak House Books would be closing in Hong Kong. It was a day I will never forget for as long as I live. What came after though would be equally unforgettable: an unshakeable and wholly unexpected force of love and support from our readers near and far who showed up en masse to send what was mostly an unspoken yet unmistakable message: we are sad to see you go but we understand and support your decision to leave Hong Kong.

"It was during that period that Jenny and I understood what it was we had to do. Yes, we would close the bookshop and physically leave Hong Kong. But we could not give up on the wonderful people who gave Bleak House Books its existence, its success and its spirit. So today we have another announcement for everyone. One of a very different sort from the one we made one year ago....

Interior of Bleak House's new home in Upstate N.Y.

"It will reopen not in the city, which perhaps is where one might expect to find a bookshop like ours, but in a place just as beautiful and inspiring called Honeoye Falls, in Western New York. It is a place where our family now calls home and where we hope to build and foster the same kind of community that kept us sane and gave us a sense of purpose during some of the darkest and hardest days in Hong Kong."

The owners recently signed a lease for what will become the new home of Bleak House Books, and if all "goes according to plan, our new bookshop will, in many ways, mirror the bookshop of old: a kiddie corner, lots of fiction, an eclectic mix of used and new books, and, of course, our own 'Love Letter to HK' in books. But it will also be bigger, in space and selection, and operate in a climate of considerable uncertainty, conflict and cost. No one ever said this would be easy though. And so we roll up our sleeves, take a deep breath and start the process all over again: the journey of building another bookshop from the ground up, one book and one reader at a time. Won't you join us?"

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