Librería Barco de Papel is a bookstore in Queens located on the border of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. The owner of the store, Ramón Caraballo, began selling books on the sidewalk in 2003. After years of saving money, he eventually was able to open his own bookstore.
A big part of Caraballo’s motivation is the preservation of culture. He consistently has events in his store. Writers, musicians, and illustrator’s make consistent visits to the store to help keep the spirit of learning alive. Recently Mr. Zeferino, a popular musician from Veracruz, played at the store, he supports Caraballo’s cause because he believes that “people have come to work but also don’t want their children to lose the links to our land.”
Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/2aXUeKs
Unfortunately the number of Spanish-language bookstores has been decreasing over time. That is what makes Librería Barco de Papel even more important. True diversity is not just having a Spanish section in Barnes and Nobles. It’s about having authentic expressions of culture, in this case, in the form of small organic businesses.
The combination of books, music, theatre, and poetry makes Librería Barco de Papel seem more like a cultural center instead of just a bookstore. Volunteers help run the bookstore and set up events that bring to community together.
Carabello has made a smart business decision that many bookstores fail to accomplish. He has made a website where all the books sold in the store can be purchased. This helps tremendously because there are probably a lot of Spanish speakers in New York who may not want to trek all the way out to Queens for a book. Librería Barco de Papel is one of the last Spanish Language books stores in New York, so if you are fluent in Spanish, consider supporting this local bookstore!
Featured image courtesy of http://bit.ly/2aMSsN1