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From AK Press: In the early morning of March 21, the building behind ours caught fire. Two people lost their lives. The fire moved to the mixed-use warehouse building we share with 1984 Printing and 30+ residents. Everyone in our building got out safely, but several units were completely destroyed. There was extensive water and smoke damage to other units, including the ones occupied by AK Press and 1984 Printing.
On the afternoon of March 24th, the City of Oakland red-tagged our building, which prohibits us from occupying it. We don't know how long this will last, but it obviously means we can't conduct business as usual.
We know how many of you support what AK Press does and the important role it plays in independent and radical publishing. A lot of you have been asking what is the best way to help us in the midst of this chaos and disruption. In fact, the outpouring of support and mutual aid has been pretty damn amazing. There was a small army of people here helping with clean-up over the weekend, and we've already raised some emergency funds from generous donations via PayPal (thank you!!) while we were working out the logistics of coordinating a larger fund drive.
But we and our neighbors can all still use help, and we want to make sure everyone affected benefits from the same kind of mutual aid we have seen. In our case, while we have lost thousands of books and pamphlets, our first concern is the smaller presses who we distribute. Several of them had inventory damaged. We want to make sure we are able to pay them so that they can keep going and reprint their books. Second, we are concerned about all the work we are currently unable to do: the books not being shipped out, the files not getting sent to the printer while we are kept out of the building. We are working out the details of our insurance, of what stock is and isn’t covered, but we won't see any insurance money for quite a while and we’ll definitely need some support until that happens, and to make sure our losses aren't passed on to other publishers we distribute.
Our neighbors at 1984 Printing had a ton of paper, materials, jobs in progress, and computers damaged. Residents of the building lost varying percentages of their belongings. Some lost everything.
So, if you can help, it’s pretty simple: whatever you donate will be evenly split three ways between AK Press, 1984 Printing, and our affected neighbors.
And all of us will be very, very grateful.
The AK Press Collective
UPDATE #1It's been almost two weeks since the fire at our warehouse and we know some of you have been waiting for an update and wondering how you can plug into the relief efforts. Very briefly, here is where things stand: our building is still red-tagged by the City of Oakland. We are hopeful that, after more inspections and some repairs are completed, we'll be able to stay. In the meantime we have been able to get some access to our stock and so we have been able to send out orders for titles that weren't damaged. We are still waiting for insurance inspectors to come and review the damage in our unit, and until that happens, we can't make any more progress with clearing out destroyed stock. So at this point there is just a lot of waiting, which we can't do much about, and it means it's going to be a while still before our work can return to any semblance of "normal."
We can't thank you enough for all of the support we've gotten in the last two weeks. Your generous donations to our crowdfunding campaign add up to almost $45,000 so far, and that money will be shared with 1984 Printing and our neighbors in the building who have been displaced by the fire. We plan to give out the first round of checks this week. We're not quite to one-third of our goal, so if you can still donate, please do! Recovering from the fire is going to be a long and difficult process, and your support will help us all get back on our feet sooner.
Besides donating, here are a few things folks can do to help (since some of you have been asking!):
• Spread the word about our fundraiser, even if you can't give yourself.
• Organize a benefit. Maybe you're in a band; maybe you can organize a film screening or a house party. Make it a benefit for our fire relief fund and we'll happily share it on our events calendar. Please understand that we are stretched pretty thin labor-wise at the moment so we probably can't send a collective member to your event, but we'll be ever-so-grateful for your help!
• Bookstores and other retailers: this might be obvious, but if you owe us money, now would be a great time to pay up! We've also heard from stores that want to have benefit events or donate a percentage of a day's sales to our fund, which is amazing and we certainly appreciate the mutual aid!
• And finally, yes, you can still place orders with us! Just understand that there will be slight delays shipping things out, so we appreciate your patience. If you're into this sort of thing, we suggest ordering e-books (which require almost no work to process and you can download instantly). And if you're able to support us more consistently, we would love it if more folks signed up as Friends of AK Press. You can do all of these things at akpress.org.
Thanks again, so much, for your support.
-The AK Press Collective