Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Have Books, Will Travel

What do you do when you lose the lease on your brick-and-mortar book store due to a skyscraping rent increase but still have books in your blood - and on your shelves?

If you're Dave Simpson of Lafayette Book Store in California's Bay Area, you slap four wheels on your shop, turn the key, and drive off, spreading books hither and yon, like Johnny Applebook.

On July 29, 2010 the Lafayette Book Store will close - and immediately re-open as the Layfayette Book Store, V-8 division. Dave bought a bookmobile, Big Blue, that was decommissioned from the Ypsilanti (Michigan) District Library, and drove it from Lansing, MI to the Bay Area the week of June 20, 2010.

The Bay Area Bookmobile, as Simpson's enterprise is called, proudly bills itself as an "Independent Bookstore on Wheels." Bookstores don't get more indie than that.

"We'll be popping up at farmers markets and festivals and schools and book clubs and wherever we're invited all over the Bay Area, selling a selection of new or used books, customized for each appearance," Dave says.

They've set up a Facebook page ("The Bay Area Bookmobile"), and, presumably, a Twitter account, to keep local citizens, fans, and patrons abreast (abook?) about what's going on, where they'll be, etc.

Inside Big Blue, shelves soon to be full to bursting.

Now that the Layfayette Book Store has become strictly off-site, their off-site events program, which has been running for ten years, should become even more, ahem, outta sight, providing bookseller services for conferences, conventions, seminars, fundraisers, festivals, book fairs, and more. From coordinating author signings large and small to providing a collection of hand-picked books for a custom bookstore in any subject area, they handle all the logistical and intellectual considerations for a wide variety of events. It's a fascinating and imaginative approach to the challenges of bookselling in today's digital universe.

And, I think, a novel way to introduce books to children. I'm working myself into a reverie, imagining a combo bookmobile/ice cream truck that drives down residential streets, rings its bell or plays its theme melody, and kids and moms run out to grab a Good Humor and a good book.

Dave Simpson has become the Paladin of the book world, a bookslinging knight for hire, entering the lives of those who seek his assistance to make the world a little better, one book at a time.

"Paladin, Paladin where do you roam?"
"I roam where the books call 'cause we lost our brick home."


Thanks to LISNews for the lead.


  1. Great idea! this is a fantastic initiative. Hope it goes great.

  2. This is such a lovely concept. The best to Dave in this venture.

  3. Dave here, thanking you all for the kind words and for the incredibly kind (and eloquent) thoughts from Mr. Gertz. Wherever you are, sir, I owe you a meal!

    You can follow this bookwheeling adventure on facebook at "The Bay Area Bookmobile".


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