Traveling Bookstores and more…
Reading books has so many benefits it’s hard to name them all. Way beyond the emotional and intellectual stimulation they provide, books create curiosity, provide stress reduction, knowledge, increased vocabulary, better memory and focus, better writing and thinking skills, and entertainment. A 2013 survey of 2,000 British children and parents by Neilsen Book showed that 36% of those children’s favorite activity was watching television. 32% of the children surveyed still read books for pleasure, but that number had declined alarmingly over the previous decade as digital entertainment became more appealing. 50% of the families surveyed owned at least one digital tablet, up from 24% the year before. Fortunately for all of us, there are many people so passionate about books and reading that they are willing to fight for the importance of books in all of our lives. Here are some examples I’ve come across.
Rita Collins lives in a very small town in a far northwest corner of Montana and was pining for a bookstore. After considering starting a bookstore and deciding it would be too expensive, she hit upon the idea of starting a traveling bookstore and launched one in 2015. She sells books wherever people are – festivals, fairs, farmer’s markets and parties. She has been to Brooklyn N.Y, Illinois and all over Montana. The full name of the bookstore is St. Rita’s Amazing Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary.
Peter and Donna Thomas have made fine press and artist’s books for more than 40 years. Like Rita Collins, they travel to fairs to sell their books. In 2009 they built a tiny home on wheels in which they travel around the country to sell their books, teach book art classes and give lectures on making books as art. Check their website to see where they are now.
There is a new website dedicated to celebrating great books and informing their followers about community bookstores. It’s called Belletrist and was founded by Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss in 2017. They feature a new book every month and offer their choice at their bookstore of the month at a discount.
Follow them on Instagram.
If you are in Brooklyn, go to the new Books Are Magic bookstore in Cobble Hill. When a beloved local bookstore, Book Court, closed after 35 years, novelist Emma Straub decided she didn’t want to live in a neighborhood without a bookstore so she and her husband opened their own.
Brooklyn has become a mecca for independent bookstores. There is the Community Bookstore in Park Slope, Greenlight Bookstore in both Fort Greene and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Spoonbill & Sugartown in East Williamsburg and McNally Jackson Books currently in lower Manhattan and soon have a branch in Williamsburg.