Billed as "Houston's Only Anarchist Infoshop," Sedition Books is also likely our city's most unorthodox bookstore. Located at 901 Richmond, next to the late, great Proletariat space, the small shop has been providing a resource for the radical community for two and a half years - although this is the third location in the shop's six-year history.
The walls and windows are littered with flyers and posters advertising everything from upcoming concerts and events to anti-capitalist messages. Near the counter, a collection of homemade patches is for sale - including a ridiculously cool Smiths/Morrissey patch that we purchased for our comrade Adam Newton - and a large calendar keeps track of scheduled events. A warning over the Richmond Ave entrance reminds everyone that Sedition is a library environment, so keep the volume at a respectable level. At the window counter, a few people sit on laptops, utilizing the shop's wireless internet, while books smother the opposite wall.
Sedition is run by a collective of people, so Art Attack spoke with three of its members - Adam, Alex & Bugga - to learn more about the shop. "It's important to note that this place doesn't have one solid definition," Bugga states. "There's a politic that defines us, but it's more a living space in the way that it adapts to what people need at the time."
The obvious question crops up - how do anarchists, who believe in a lack of structures - operate a bookstore? The answer turns out to be quite simple, but it requires removing the common, bomb-throwing "down with everything!" image of an anarchist that's commonly perpetrated by the media.
"There's eight of us right now - eight collective members, that is," Adam informs us. "What that means, to be part of the collective, is that you have equal ownership, equal responsibility, equal liability. There's no hierarchical structure - no bosses, no managers, no owners. Everybody participates as equals."
Bugga clarifies what that entails, as far as day-to-day operations go. "People determine their own hours. We take four hour shifts - as many or little as you can. We're in the practice of autonomy, so whatever you feel like you can do is what you do." It's a system, yes - but it is one of total parity. As Adam says, "there's a collective of eight people that run the store, but it's not our store - it's everyone's store. We do the finances and order the books because somebody's got to do it. But it's really a resource that we want everybody to use, everybody to identify it as their space."
The amount of events and access that Sedition offers provides proof. Between film showings, visits from authors, artists, poets and zine makers, lectures and workshops, the collective makes the space available for use not just by anarchists, but by anyone in the radical community, and it welcomes anyone who's even curious. On February 19th the shop will welcome noted activist and professor Joel Olson - a member of the former Love & Rage anarchist federation who currently works with Bring The Ruckus and the Repeal Coalition.
Adam practically beams with excitement about Olson's scheduled appearance, and is clearly joyful about what Sedition offers as a resource for the community. "I would want anybody who identifies as part of the radical community in Houston to identify this as their space. They can come in here and be as involved as they want. This is a resource, and it's for everybody."
While the shop does have a few cases of books for sale, the chief resource is the extensive lending library they've assembled. "It's always kind of growing and shifting because we have a network that we share all of our books with, with a bunch of different collectives," explains Alex. The shop asks for a small donation in the neighborhood of five to 10 dollars, a fee they use to secure additional books and replace titles that may have accidentally disappeared.