Who are we:
We (Vina, Natalie, and Holly) have been obsessed and immersed in the literary world since we were young. Vina drew a dream bookstore layout on a napkin when she was just a little girl. Natalie got books from her parents as rewards for good grades. Holly knew the layout of her local library better than she knew her hometown.
The three of us met while working at the Barnes and Noble in Forest Hills. Eventually, we all went our separate ways, but when we heard that the store was closing at the end of 2015, we decided to reunite to say our final goodbyes to our beloved local bookstore. It was during this time that we realized Queens was being left in the literary dust with the closure of the Forest Hills and Bayside locations at the end of the year and Fresh Meadows in 2014. Now there’s just one general-purpose bookstore in the entire borough, and we are desperate, as readers and community members, for another.
Why we care (and why you should too):
Queens has a strong literary community with little to bring them together. We have lost the space where children can go for storytime, where local writers can share their work, and where you can meet your new favorite book or new best friend.
Right now, we exist on an entire side of Queens that has little to show children -or anyone- that books can be fun and that bookstores are amazing.
While we have libraries, owning your own book collection from a young age, dog-earing your favorite book (please use bookmarks, we beg you), or writing your thoughts down on the page is an experience that cannot be replicated. These things are what make a book yours. The three of us were fortunate enough to grow up choosing books because we could. Others can’t. We want to bring the opportunity we had to love bookstores to the people of Queens and have it be around the block.
Throughout the early stages of our initiative, we have heard your voices and have been fortunate enough to receive your support. We were interviewed by DNAinfo, the Forest Hills Times, NY1, WCBS, Shelf Awareness, Publisher’s Weekly, QNSMADE, The Writer’s Bone, Queens Tribune, amNY, Queens Chronicle, Huffington Post, Fox5NY, The Observer. Clearly, people are interested in what we’re working towards! We plan to bring back the community space that we (and you) starve for. As readers and residents of Queens, we care, and we aim to represent YOU to the best of our ability in this endeavor.
So what are we building for you:
We want our bookshop to be the place you find the newest bestseller, the place you go to meet your favorite local authors, and the place you bring your out of town friend to because “It’s just so cool there.”
We hope to bring you:
→ A warm and inviting bookshop for you to discover your next great read
→ A passionate book staff to help you and talk books with you (because we all love good literary discussions)
→ An event space! We are a community of book lovers and we all like a good night out. We hope to host a series of events, from author signings and poetry readings, to children’s storytimes and kid-friendly crafts.
→ The best little reward program this side of the 59th Street Bridge
Every dollar you spend with us gets a point, 100 points gets you a $5 coupon!
-10% military/student/senior discount
-15% educator discount
→ The Through the Trees Bookclub (because sometimes you need a little support group for that book hangover)
→ A brilliant podcast about books, bookish things, thingish books, literary news and anything else we can think of!
→ An equally brilliant blog.
→ Our own unique ways of giving back to the community. Throughout the year we will partner with local charities to bring books to children that need them, provide internship opportunities for neighborhood teenagers, and give you (our beautiful customers) outlets to donate to your favorite literacy charities.
Makin' It Rain (Budget):
Obviously, starting a business takes a lot of money. While we will be contributing a large portion of the investment ourselves (for initial start-up costs, rent, renovation of our space, etc), it just won’t be enough. As a backer for our community bookshop, we want to make sure you know where your money will be going!
→ $57,000 - Inventory: While you will find carefully curated genres, we will also be supporting our local authors by carrying their work as well as bookish merchandise made by independent crafters.
- We have not yet selected a space, so we are using an estimate for the following calculations
- 1150 sqft X 10 books/sqft = 11,500 books total
- 11,500 books total X $10 per book = $115,000 total
- We are clearly not asking for the full amount of the cost of inventory. For this reason, it is extremely important that you give as much as you can and share our story with others so that hopefully we can go above and beyond our goal.
→ $13,000 - Miscellaneous: POS system/hardware, publicity, promotion, Kickstarter’s Fees - 5% of total funds raised. Payment processing fees: 3% + $0.20 per pledge. Pledges under $10 have a discounted micropledge fee of 5% + $0.05 per pledge.
That total comes to: $70,000.
*Once we reach our goal, please don’t stop giving! Any extra amount will go towards bringing the best bookstore our community deserves!
We have steered and trekked our path to who we have become today and why we believe we can successfully run this bookstore...
→ Vina: She has a BA in Literature and Publishing, which opened doors to opportunities at literary agencies and publications. She has worked and attended industry events such as the Book Expo of America (for the past six years) and the Random House Independent Publishers Book Buzz. She started working at the Barnes and Noble in Union Square and then transferred over to the Forest Hills location in 2010, for a total of 4 years of bookselling/managerial experience under her belt. She is also a graduate of the Barnes & Noble's bookseller school program; in which only one bookseller is nominated to represent their store. This program provided the opportunity to meet book buyers and publishing leaders. Recently, she has become a proud member of Latinos in Publishing, which is held at the Scholastic headquarters!
→ Natalie: 5 years of bookselling/managerial experience. She started working in Borders in 2010. From there, she moved on to Books-A-Million. With that experience under her belt, she began working at the Forest Hills Barnes & Noble and was there for almost three years until she parted ways with the company shortly before the store closed. Throughout that time, Natalie worked first towards a Business Management degree at Baruch College but later transferred over to Queens College for a degree in Secondary English Education. She has also volunteered her time at Book Expo America working directly in the Author Area. Natalie has interacted with thousands of customers throughout her time in the industry, she knows what works and what doesn't in bookstore retail, and she has a college transcript that speaks specifically to business, literature, teaching, and working with people.
→ Holly: 10 years in retail management with two of them as a member of a bookstore management team. As a part of Barnes & Noble, Holly was lucky enough to attend several book industry events, such as the Random House Independent Publishers Book Buzz and Book Expo America two years in a row. Outside of books, her experience is in specialty retail, specifically small boutiques with a focus on building the customer experience. She has helped open store front locations for companies such as Hot Topic and Lindt & Sprungli, so she is no stranger to working from the ground up to discover, connect with and build a strong customer base. Her BA is in Print Communication.
Risks and challenges
Competition with online retailers:
→ The first question people usually ask us when we tell them we’re opening a bookstore is, “But what about Amazon?” While online shopping has certainly changed the retail landscape, it is not as great a risk as it might seem. Amazon has made its name by offering wildly discounted books; however, as noted in an article by The New York Times, when competition wanes, online retailers like Amazon take advantage of the monopoly and abuse prices. Brick and mortar bookstores help regulate the price of books, to the consumers’ benefit. In addition, the Amazon customer does not always equate to the bookshop customer. By offering solid customer service, a unique shopping experience and events to engage the community (you guys) we are confident that we can offset any challenges online shopping has to offer.
Competition from E-books:
→ Yup. Kindles and Nooks sure are cool. And we guess iBooks aren't bad. But studies show that, comparably, trade books are still outselling their digital counterparts. According to surveys done by Nielson Bookscan, e-books make up less than 25% of all books sold in the U.S. and physical book sales have gone up 3.8% from January of 2015 to January 2016. They also went up 2.4% from 2014-2015. In a survey done by statista.com in 2014, 46% of people surveyed say they read only hard copy books, and in total at least 70% balance their physical/digital book consumption. In our fast paced digital age, physical books are a treat the people still indulge in. Oh, and they won't die on you during your 11 hour flight.
Competition if Barnes comes back:
→ We will welcome them right back; our borough can only benefit from more bookstores. We believe we can co-exist since, as we have stated and our community has realized, we only have ONE general purpose bookstore.
Meeting our expenses:
→ While we have carefully researched the costs involved in this venture, we cannot foresee any surprise costs. We are aware of the risks involved, but are confident that our community will pull through either by donating or sharing our story. Every little bit counts!
Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)