Founded in 1917 by the Drama League, the Drama Book Shop became an independent book store in 1923 and since that time has been deemed a quintessential New York City cultural institution. Over the past 100 years, the Drama Book Shop has secured its reputation as the city’s best source for theatrical works, with over 8,000 plays regularly in stock. In 2011, the Drama Book Shop received a Tony Award® Honor for Excellence in the Theatre. Given since 1990, this award is bestowed upon individuals, organization, and institutions that have demonstrated profound achievement in the theatre but are ineligible in any of the established Tony categories.
The Drama Book Shop opened in its current home on West 39th Street in 2020 under new ownership. Long time friends and patrons of the bookstore Thomas Kail and Lin-Manuel Miranda, along with Jeffrey Seller and James L. Nederlander purchased the store from Rozanne Seelen, whose late husband Arthur Seelen had bought the store in 1958. Over the years, the store has moved several times, most recently located on West 40th Street. When the store opened there in December of 2001, a theatre troupe from Wesleyan University – Back House Productions – founded by Kail, John Buffalo Mailer, Neil Stewart and Anthony Veneziale became the resident theater company. They convened downstairs in the store’s 60-seat Arthur Seelen Theatre, and in 2002 they began to rehearse a new musical. Written by Mr. Miranda and directed by Mr. Kail, “In The Heights” went on to win several Tony Awards® in 2008.
The new location, designed by “Hamilton” scenic designer David Korins and his team, pays homage to twentieth century European cafes and reading rooms, and features a full service cafe serving coffee, teas, and light snacks.
The Drama Book Shop is a community space for everyone enthused by the Arts—students, fans, theatre professionals, and award-winning artists alike. Since 1917, the Drama Book Shop has been a mainstay of New York’s theatre scene, and with the support of the thousands of patrons that have passed through the shop’s doors, will continue to be for the next 100 years to come.