Believe it or not, you read that headline correctly: there is only ONE bookstore in Queens, New York. That’s right, Queens — the Long Island, New York City borough of approximately 2.3 million residents only has one bookstore in their 108 square miles of cityscape. I’m going to give you a moment to let that sink in, because for a book lover, those stats are kind of unimaginable. OK, moment’s over; time for some good news: there is something you can do to help bring books back to Queens — and it all started with three young book lovers, just like yourself.
It’s called The Queens Bookshop Initiative, and what began as a humble idea to create a gathering space for readers, authors, and book lovers has grown into a major Kickstarter campaign to fund a second bookstore in Queens. The campaign, which has just over a week left to meet their goal, has already raised almost $31,000 of their $70,000 proposed budget, from over 460 backers, as of this writing.
The brains behind The Queens Bookshop Initiative Kickstarter campaign are Vina Castillo, Natalie Noboa, and Holly Nikodem — three young readers who met while working at a Queens Barnes & Noble. When that bookstore closed at the end of 2015 — one of three that shut their doors in quick succession last year — Castillo, Noboa, and Nikodem realized there was only one remaining large, all-purpose bookstore in their entire borough. (Queens offers readers other small, more specialized used and Spanish-language bookstores — but only The Astoria Bookshop, located on the far northwest side of Queens, has that “I can browse here all day” kind of vibe.) The three ambitious readers just had to do something about it.
Here’s what their Kickstarter page says:
“Queens has a strong literary community with little to bring them together. We have lost the space where children can go for story time, where local writers can share their work, and where you can meet your new favorite book or new best friend… 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.’”
As all lovers of literature know, your favorite bookstore can quickly become a second home — somewhere to cozy up with a hot coffee and a book that you love, meet a new or long-time favorite author, or discover that just-published title you have to have on your own shelves. And as someone who has probably spent just as much time between bookstore shelves as I have in my own apartment, I can’t imagine not having that bookish home just a few blocks away.
With the goal of reminding their community, and communities all over the country, that #QueensStillReads, The Queens Bookshop Initiative has received a huge amount of support since their fundraising campaign went live — but they’ve still got a long way to go. If you want to help bring a bookstore back to Queens, you can visit the Kickstarter campaign page here.