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Bronx Bound Bookstore
Photograph: Courtesy of Bronx Bound Bookstore

You can find this traveling bookstore all over the Bronx

Find over 3,000 books inside Bronx Bound Books, a Ford 2012 shuttle bus.

Written by
Anna Rahmanan
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"I believe every neighborhood deserves a bookstore, even if it's just for one day," says 41-year-old Latanya DeVaughn, who quite literally put her money where her mouth is by establishing Bronx Bound Books, a mobile bookstore housed in a converted bus.

Bronx Bound Books
Photograph: Courtesy of Bronx Bound Books

DeVaughn first acted on the idea of a traveling bookstore back in 2019. Using Ubers and asking friends for rides, she'd take her books to different pop-up events, farmers' markets and schools before she received a grant that allowed her to convert the Ford 2012 Ford E-350 shuttle bus that she bought on Election Day 2020 into an actual bookstore on wheels.

"I was initially looking for a school bus," she explains. "But because of COVID-19, finding a mechanic to do the work was going to be crazy. I did some research and found out that the shuttle bus runs great, is sustainable, reliable and easy to fix."

Visitors will find about 3,000 new and used books inside the unusual store at any given moment. They run the gamut in terms of genre—from children's to classics, best sellers and more—which, according to DeVaughn, is actually the point of the whole endeavor. "The key here is the power of choice," she says. "There is a huge misconception about people in the Bronx not wanting to read. I think that the books they have had access to just weren't the ones they wanted to read." 

Among the requests she often fields: Diary of a Wimpy Kid and former President Barack Obama's tomes.

Currently, the bus works by appointment. When hired, DeVaughn drives to schools, temples and shelters and allows visitors to shop inside for free. Other times, she'll head to events like the Bronx Night Market and Riverdale Y Sunday Market free of charge and sell her books to those in attendance. Per her estimates, she has already sold or given out about 7,000 books this calendar year.

When asked about her hopes for the future, DeVaughn is quick to note that the book-buying experience in the Bronx deserves an overhaul. "I want it to be something that happens on a day-to-day, regular basis," she says. "I want to give parents their dignity back. It may feel like they are failing if they can't afford something. The say books are very important so when the parents can't afford them, it's a problem."

As for her own favorite piece of writing, the business owner is reluctant to make a single pick, although she mentions the likes of James Baldwin and Maya Angelou. "I have three kids and it's like asking for a my favorite child," she says jokingly. "I love anything that is uplifting and teaches me about the past and the people that came before me." 

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