Bookspot of the Week: Cincy Book Bus

For this week’s bookspot, we spoke with Melanie Moore, the owner of The Book Bus in Cincinnati.

Bookspot / Libraries
cincy book bus featured no 2

Welcome back to your favorite time of the week! For this week’s bookspot, we spoke with Melanie Moore, the owner of The Book Bus in Cincinnati. This isn’t just any bookstore though: it’s a bookstore on wheels!

 

How did your bookstore transition from concept to reality?

I was a teacher for 25 years and when I retired, I thought it was a good time to pursue my dream of opening a bookstore. That was in 2017. I planned on a brick and mortar and began my research. I talked with booksellers and owners throughout the country and took a week-long class in Florida through Paz & Associates learning everything I needed to do to open a bookstore. By the spring of 2018, I was ready to look for a space. The night before I was to sign a lease I woke up in the middle of the night and knew it wasn’t right. I had just become an empty nester and I wanted to have the flexibility to travel along on my husband’s business trips. I also wasn’t feeling comfortable about the high start-up costs and pressure of the rent/overhead. I decided to put my dream on hold. Shortly after that, I finished reading Parnassus on Wheels, a book by Christopher Morley that was published in 1915 about a traveling, mobile bookstore. I was sitting at my kitchen table, looked out and saw my husband’s 1962 VW transporter parked in the driveway. In that moment everything clicked into place in my mind. I yelled to my husband, “Honey, can I steal your truck?” And The Book Bus was born.

 

via Cincy Book Bus

 

What do you feel is unique to your bookstore?

What makes me unique and is also my most popular books are the special editions of classics that I find and books that are not available locally that I have brought in from the UK. As far as I know, I am the only US bookstore that carries Persephone Books of London. Also, where else can you buy a book from a 1962 VW Transporter?! It’s a super fun experience. 

If you had infinite space, what might you add to the store?

I’d add more nonfiction and children’s books.

book bus interior

via Cincy Book Bus

 

How do you feel your bookstore fits into your local community?

I guess the teacher side of me wasn’t finished when I retired. I have a passion for getting books into the hands of kids who need them most. I take all my profits and buy new children’s books for schools and organizations to help build their libraries. Every child should be given the opportunity to experience the joy of reading for themselves. When local schools were open, I worked with teachers in schools that do not have a school library to help build their classroom libraries. With the pandemic and schools closing, I had to change my tactic. Recently, I have donated books to schools to be handed out with their meal programs. I’ve also donated books to women’s shelters that have children. I recently discovered that all the Cincinnati Recreation Centers had to get rid of all their books due to COVID so they are starting with nothing for their summer programs. I’m working hard to donate books to all rec centers in need. As of now, I will have helped five. I’m also working with a local church that provides summer reading books to kids in trailer parks. I work hard to give back to the community that supports my efforts and my business. 

 

What does your store offer that a chain or online retailer can’t?

A personal, unique experience where a customer will be able to find books and authors that are not found in local stores.

via Cincy book bus

Do you hand-pick your staff to create a specific environment?

No staff, just little old me. My bookstore is a one woman show :) 

 

How else do you create a welcoming environment?

Folks have said that they appreciate my quick responses to emails or messages. People get a friendly and personal experience when they shop with me. They know I’m working hard to provide books and service to make their experience a happy one.

bookspot

via Cincy Book Bus

What about your store do you think appeals to your neighborhood?

It’s a fun, unique experience to buy a book from a mobile bookstore.

Do you have any staff picks or releases we should watch out for?

You never know what special editions or new books I will be featuring from the UK so keep an eye on Instagram and Facebook for updates.

cincy book bus

via Cincy Book Bus

Do you tailor your inventory according to your community?

I tailor my stock to the event I am attending. For example, when I attended a local Woman’s Market in March I featured books of women authors or books with strong women characters. I also curate books for seasonal reading and holidays. With the recent events of Black Lives Matter, I curated a book list for Anti-Racist adult books and Anti-Racist books for kids and teens. 

Is there anything else that you’d like our audience to know?  

My favorite things about The Book Bus are the smiles the truck brings to people, meeting fellow book lovers and talking books and watching shelves that were once empty being filled with donated books and knowing that I’m playing a part to help inspire a passion for reading.

the book bus

via cincy book bus

You can find The Book Bus on Instagram @cincybookbus. Do you know of a book shop worthy of a spotlight on our site? Contact us through any of our socials and you may just find it here next week.

Featured image via cincy book bus