Revolution Books Berkeley Is Moving—Raising Funds and Reaching Out

June 15, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From the staff of Revolution Books, Berkeley:

It’s not your old grandpa’s communism—It’s something else. It’s a deep, spirited analysis. I grapple with these guys all the time, from another point of view, but I love ’em and respect them and they need your help. And if you want independent thought, independent books, independent ideas to exist you have to step up. You have to help.

Peter Coyote

Revolution Books Berkeley is making a bold and exciting, but challenging move. We’ve been at our current location (2425 Channing Way in Berkeley) for over 27 years, but to stay open we’ve had to scramble each month for donations and sustainers above and beyond our sales. But this trajectory wasn’t sustainable. More importantly, the times are changing and there’s a great urgency for Revolution Books to expand its reach and amplify its mission.

So, after a lengthy, often public, battle with our landlord, the City of Berkeley, we’ve signed the lease for a new and better space at 2444 Durant, which is also in the Sather Gate Mall. It’s closer to the UC Berkeley campus—a little more than a block away—and it’s a space we can renovate and refurbish from top to bottom. Our aim is to re-launch our store and expand its mission to be better and more fully able to contribute to the urgent tasks of the movement for revolution, broadly promoting BA’s leadership and work in particular. We aim to become a much brighter beacon for revolution and the new synthesis of communism across the intellectually and politically charged San Francisco Bay Area. And in particular we aim to have a much greater connection with and impact on the intellectual and political life at UC Berkeley, one of the country’s most important elite universities. (In all this, studying Ardea Skybreak’s interview at has been extremely helpful and clarifying.)

We’re finding a lot of interest in our move, and a lot of potential to make it successful. Our experience at the Oakland and Bay Area Book Festivals (see below), as well as moving statements of support such as the video message from actor, author, and Zen Buddhist priest Peter Coyote, testify to that.

But it’s also a big and challenging task. Overall we need to raise at least $35,000 to renovate and move in by August 1. We’ve now launched an campaign to raise $20,000 of that, and there’s tons of work to do to make the campaign successful. So we’re encouraging everyone to:

  • Donate to the Indiegogo campaign, make comments on the site, and share the campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. People can donate publicly or anonymously, a lot or a little.
  • Write a check payable to Revolution Books, mail to Revolution Books, 2425 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94704.
  • Donate or sustain monthly at
  • Donate in person and call us at 510-848-1196 to volunteer, help fund raise, order your books for classes, or learn more about how you can get active with Revolution Books.


Oakland Book Festival & Bay Area Book Festival

Two different book festivals debuted in the Bay Area in recent weeks. The first was on May 31, the Oakland Book Festival. The second, the Bay Area Book Festival, was held June 6-7 in downtown Berkeley. Both were launched to meet what the organizers said was a felt need to talk seriously about ideas and promote books. And the packed and diverse panels and prominent authors of both fiction and non-fiction works testified to the hunger for this kind of serious engagement.

The Oakland Book Festival was promoted as being about ideas, not just books. “What we want to do is show complicated, intellectual ideas in an accessible way,” said one of its organizers, Kira Brunner Don. “We believe that people are intelligent, and they want to talk about ideas. And it does not have to be done in academic jargon; it can be done so that everyone can be involved in the conversation. And that’s what we hope to do. We want our conversations to be complicated, and we want everyone to be part of them.”

Thousands of people converged on downtown Berkeley in the first Berkeley-based Bay Area Book Festival. Book lovers came to hear well known authors, like Judy Blume, Daniel Handler, Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman, and Peter Coyote, as well as international authors.

A 10-block area was blocked to traffic and filled up with people checking out the booths—of independent bookstores, publishing companies, and authors. Stages featured authors and music. If you love books, it was the place to be that weekend. In the middle of the festivities, there was an art installation packed with 50,000 books free to be taken by festival goers. Most were gone by the first day.

Revolution Books’ booth, situated on “Radical Row,” featured BAsics, the DVD of the film of the dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian on REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, and the new compendium Constitution, Law and Rights—in Capitalist Society and in the Future Socialist Society. We also had a broader selection of books. Our booth was very busy and we sold a lot of books. Some store volunteers also raised a giant Stolen Lives banner at a nearby corner which attracted and jolted a lot of people (the crowd was predominantly white and middle class). Two white women just started crying when they saw it.

A steady stream of people came by the booth, some drawn to the signs that said “Save Revolution Books,” and the posters of the Stolen Lives. Many were interested in the new compendium about the Constitution. People from the store went to some of the panels and talked to hundreds of the festival goers about the big questions about capitalism—is revolution possible, what kind of revolution and how would you bring it about, what about the history of socialism and communism.

At our booth, we had several authors who signed copies of their books: Scott Saul, author of Becoming Richard Pryor; Elmaz Abinader, author of This House, My Bones; Osha Neumann, author of Up Against the Wall, MotherfXXker; Elias Castillo, author of Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of the Indians by the Spanish Missions; Larry Everest, author of Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda; and Peter Coyote, author of The Rainman’s Third Cure. Several also made video statements calling on people to support the bookstore.

Many of the panel presentations took up important issues: The Ocean Planet, Futurism, Fatalism and Climate Change, World in Flux, How Poems Change the World, The Roots of Violence, and the surveillance state. This was a thinking crowd and the sentiments were clearly against the system’s crimes and sympathetic to the people, and many of the authors and presenters were open to reading at or helping support Revolution Books. But the discussions, while often highly critical of the status quo and with important insights, were hemmed within the basic parameters of that status quo, and this spoke to the urgent need and basis to make BA’s leadership and work a point of reference society-wide. Revolution Books, through participating in some of the question/answer periods and through the bookstore’s booth, stood out in getting into the question of the real problem is capitalism and revolution is the solution to ending all of the horrors that face humanity.

This book festival was a great opportunity to talk to lots of people and involve them in supporting the store and the overall movement for revolution. We learned a lot and had a positive impact on the whole event.


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"The film brings you up close inside Cornel West's and Bob Avakian's dialogue: the passion, the audacity, the science, the morality, the revolutionary substance. Two courageous voices modeling a morality that refuses to accept injustice – pouring heart and soul into standing together challenging all of us to fight for a world worthy of humanity."

Andy Zee,
co-director of the film


BA Speaks

"No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."

BAsics 1:13

Do you know anyone else—any person or organization—that has managed to bring forth an actual PLAN for a radically different society, in all its dimensions, and a CONSTITUTION to codify all this? — A different world IS possible — Check out and order online the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).

What Humanity Needs

At the beginning of 2012, an in-depth interview with Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, was conducted over a period of several days by A. Brooks, a younger generation revolutionary who has been inspired by the leadership and body of work of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism this has brought forward.