Bronx Bound Books aims to continue trend of literary resurgence in the borough

Devaughn (l) with television host Jenna Bush Hager in late February during Bronx Bound Books’ TODAY Show feature.
Photo courtesy Latanya DeVaughn

The presence of Bronx bookstores is currently on the rise and the founder of a local independent bookstore is making sure that the trend continues as she pursues a permanent brick and mortar location in the borough.

Latanya DeVaughn is the founder of independent bookstore Bronx Bound Books, a “book-mobile” modified school bus which promotes literacy throughout the borough and the region by selling books at affordable rates at various locations and venues.

DeVaughn’s aim is to make books more accessible for young people as well as adults, while simultaneously combating the well-documented literacy crisis that has plagued the borough in recent years.

Her goal is, and has always been, to obtain a permanent brick and mortar bookstore location within the Mall at Bay Plaza or somewhere in the borough. The popular of the “book-mobile” prompted the creation of a GoFundMe page last summer to finally make that dream a reality.

As of press time, the page had raised just over $16,000 out of its $50,000 goal.

“Having the ability to read is one of the strongest powers that a person can possess,” DeVaughn said. “The foundation of reading is a vital part of learning.”

DeVaughn, who launched Bronx Bound Books in 2019 by taking Ubers to various locations and selling books throughout the region to local hospitals, organizations, shelters, schools and farmers’ markets, had previously told the Bronx Times that it has always been a dream of hers to open a bookstore, which continues to be her objective.

“I want people in the Bronx to know that I really want to fulfill the goal of having a bookstore here in the borough,” added DeVaughn, who was born and raised in the Bronx. “The school bus will always be here — and I also intend to follow through on my mission to get a brick and mortar bookstore location in the Bronx.”

DeVaughn, who was born and raised in the Bronx, founded Bronx Bound Books in 2019 to promote literacy throughout the borough. File photo courtesy Abigail Montes

DeVaughn, who has a professional background in finance, human resources and accounting and has previously worked at various nonprofits, said that her initial love for reading began as a child with her grandmother, who was an educator at DeVaughn’s future alma mater, P.S. 5 in Port Morris.

She said that her grandmother would also read mail, prescription details and other written information for some of their neighbors who were illiterate.

As a teenager, DeVaughn and her family would frequent garage sales outside the city on weekends, were she was always drawn to previously owned books.

“I never looked down on used books,” DeVaughn added. “In a way, that makes them more special.”

DeVaughn started Bronx Bound Books in 2019 by taking Ubers and even subways to locations equipped with books, boxes, tables and a wagon.

DeVaughn inside the Bronx Bound Books “book-mobile”, which displays donated books from authors, publishers as well as the community.Photo courtesy Latanya DeVaughn

She eventually purchased the “book-mobile”, which is now frequently rented by New York City Department of Education (DOE) schools throughout the city and supplies free books for its students. Last year, for more than a month, she also operated a Bronx Bound Books kiosk within the Mall at Bay Plaza.

DeVaughn, who was featured on the “TODAY Show” in late February for her work establishing Bronx Bound Books, has also teamed up with the Jerome Gun Hill Business Improvement District (BID), Montefiore Medical Center and La Central YMCA in the Melrose neighborhood for local initiatives and events.

DeVaughn and Bronx Bound Books will be collaborating with the Jerome Gun Hill BID once again for an upcoming event on June 14.

“This week is not just about books, it’s also about celebrating literacy and the communities that form around the stories they tell,” said GoFundMe regional spokesperson Madison Jones, who said that the fundraising platform saw a 15% increase in fundraising for bookstores, as well as a 7% increase in fundraising for libraries and support for efforts to push back against book bans in the last year alone.

“Libraries and book shops serve as vital hubs for fostering a love of reading while promoting literacy in communities,” Jones added. “Many are turning to GoFundMe to rally and support local bookshops, fund initiatives to help protect from book bans, library restoration efforts and establish free pop-up libraries in neighborhood.”

The Bronx had been longing for permanent bookstores here in the borough following the departure of Barnes & Noble in Bay Plaza in 2016.

Barnes & Noble, which operated the location within the mall for more than 15 years, promised to return to the borough within 36 months of closing their Bronx location but, unfortunately for Bronx bookworms, never followed through on its promise.

In March 2022, six years after the Barnes & Noble closed down, Bronx natives Jaeydon McBayne and Hadiyah Braithwaite set up a petition to reopen the bookseller in Bay Plaza — generating more than 600 signatures the first week, the Bronx Times reported at the time.

Barnes & Noble’s location within the Bay Plaza Shopping Center operated for more than 15 years before closing down in 2016. File photo Bronx Times

The Bronx literary scene was precarious in the late 2010s before bookstore movements such as DeVaughn’s Bronx Bound Books and Noëlle Santos’ the Lit. Bar began operations in the borough, followed by even more local bookstore movements continuing the trend.

Other local bookstore initiatives, including the Bronx Is Reading, Edokia Bookstore, the Literary Freedom Project, Locked and Lit, the Norwood Community Library as well as Wildflower, have also each continued the trend of reviving the literary scene in the Bronx.

April is a big month for literacy awareness, which includes National Library Week taking place this week, from Sunday, April 7 to Saturday, April 13, as well as Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 27. National Book Month is celebrated in the month of October.

DeVaughn will be at the Riverdale Y’s Sunday Market on April 28, where she will have books for sale which were donated by authors, publishers as well as members of the community.

She added that she also hopes to see public libraries in the Bronx and throughout the city to be reopened on Sundays.

Last month, leaders from the New York, Queens and Brooklyn public libraries, the city’s three independent library systems, each publicly demanded for NYC Mayor Eric Adams to restore budget cuts for the city’s libraries, after the mayor trimmed the city budget in November, forcing all New York public libraries within the five boroughs to close on Sundays.

Donate and contribute to a brick and mortar Bronx Bound Books location by visiting Bronx Bound Books’ GoFundMe page.

Reach Steven Goodstein at or (718) 260–8326. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes