PM Press has acquired a 17,000 square foot building at 21 Emma St. to house its primary distribution center in Binghamton. The company is planning to host special events and book fairs onsite
By Chris Potter
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
A California book publisher with ties to Broome County is making the move to Binghamton.
PM Press has acquired a 17,000 square foot building at 21 Emma St. to house its primary distribution center. Book orders will be fulfilled out of the Binghamton location after the company outgrew its Oakland warehouse driven by strong sales.
The new shipping and receiving center is expected to process over $1 million in book orders annually, according to the Broome County IDA. The Agency recently approved $13,720 in sales and use tax exemptions for the project.
“We’re excited. The warehouse is ideal for what we want to do, but it also gives us a lot more potential to realize some of the plans and ideas that in Oakland, because of space constraints, would have remained a fantasy,” said PM Press founder Ramsey Kanaan. “The potential of what we can do at the Emma Street location is not boundless, but it’s certainly bountiful.”
Binghamton emerged as a natural fit as the company looked at potential warehouses across Upstate New York last year. Two PM Press employees, Andy Pragacz and Eriksen Goetz, are Broome County natives who now reside in the city, and Kanaan is planning a move to nearby Ithaca.
PM Press employees Eriksen Goetz, left, Andy Pragacz, right, are Broome County natives who are operating the publisher’s new warehouse at 21 Emma St. in the City of Binghamton.
What is PM Press?
The PM Press website states that it is a “radical publisher of books and media to educate, entertain, and inspire. … PM Press amplifies the voices of radical authors, artists, and activists. Our aim is to deliver bold political ideas and vital stories to all walks of life and arm the dreamers to demand the impossible.”
The First Ward location offered just what PM Press was looking for in a new home — ample warehouse space in an urban setting, with the flexibility to host special events and book fairs onsite.
Pragacz will be leading those efforts. A Johnson City grad who teaches Human Development courses at Binghamton University, Pragacz has strong ties to the First Ward. He said his great-grandfather established his first home in the neighborhood, and his father owned a business around the corner from the Emma Street facility.
Pragacz, a co-founder of local activist group Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier (JUST), and Goetz hope to leverage their connections in the local arts scene to turn the building into a community centerpiece.
“A lot of the beautification projects that we’ve seen in downtown and the West Side haven’t made it over here. I’m happy we can bring some of the industrial space back and rehabilitate this space that wasn’t really doing anything,” said Pragacz. “We’d also like to be part of making this area a more livable place and encouraging beatification. We’re going to do that through our own actions. That’s something we’re really committed to.”
While the company is already onsite, Kanaan said major renovation work will likely get underway this spring and summer.
“Our idea is to paint the inside and outside of the building and do some beautification on the outside with muraling,” said Pragacz. “We ordered seeds to plant some wildflowers this spring and beautify the neighborhood. There’s a giant retaining wall out in front that was built during the New Deal in the 1930s. We’d like to rehabilitate that to make a more attractive frontage in the neighborhood overall.”
Kanaan’s plans for the building include a stage with a sound system to host visiting authors, speakers and other community events. PM Press has published a number of authors with ties to the area, including several who have taught at Binghamton University.
Pragacz said the company’s latest book is a collection of short stories by Cara Hoffman, who spent part of her youth in Binghamton and has written a character who hails from Johnson City.
Kanaan described the Binghamton facility as a “crucial linchpin” that provides the independent publisher a measure of self-sufficiency as it competes with industry giants. PM Press sells books directly to consumers, as well as to libraries, colleges, book stores and Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The company is in the process of acquiring a bookstore in Ithaca as part of its shift east.
PM Press employees Eriksen Goetz, left, and Andy Pragacz, right, outside the publisher’s new warehouse at 21 Emma St. in the City of Binghamton. PM Press has expanded its operations from California to Binghamton.
How the Emma Street building will be redeveloped
The Emma Street building was constructed in 1970 and sat vacant for much of the last decade. PM Press expects its transition to the Binghamton facility to cost around $1 million, including building acquisition, new construction improvements, equipment purchases and associated costs.
The application for IDA assistance indicated PM Press will employ three in Binghamton and, eventually, at least one employee in Ithaca.
“That is just the beginning. One of the beauties of the warehouse and the facility in Binghamton is that it’s pretty huge,” said Kanaan. “We have room to expand and play with. We’re unusual in the sense that during the two years of COVID we’ve actually added 25% more employees across the company. We see this as part of our continued expansion.”
PM Press has acquired a 17,000 square foot building at 21 Emma St. in Binghamton to house its primary distribution center. Book orders will be fulfilled out of the Binghamton location after the company outgrew its Oakland, Calif. warehouse.
A Penguin Random House Books distribution center in Kirkwood once employed 300 in Broome County before closing in 2015.
Pragacz noted that aside from the campus bookstore, Binghamton has just one bookseller — Riot Act, a volunteer-run operation on Main Street.
“Can you imagine a college town without a book store?” Pragacz asked. “We’re really happy that hopefully we’ll be part of encouraging reading. We find that pretty valuable.
“We’re going to be in Binghamton and we plan to be here for a long time. It’s where I grew up and want to be. Whatever good fortune PM comes into will be reflected in the building and our growth.”
Chris Potter can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ChrisPotter413. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.