As Book Row in NYC is long gone and the Lit Bar is the lone book store in the Bronx, one Bronxite is hoping to bring a mobile bookstore to the borough.
Latanya Devaughn, 40, of Mott Haven, grew up going to the Strand in Manhattan with her aunt Dora Villodas and often came home with tons of books.
She spent hours there and loved it because the books were affordable.
“That experience was great, but I didn’t like the train,” she recalled.
Devaughn taught at Fordham and performed at various open mics, but through all of this, there was a desire to open a bookstore in her borough. The mom of three, noticed there was nowhere for Bronxites to buy books locally and for 20 years it has been her mission to change that.
In May of 2019 she launched Bronx Bound Books where she travels the streets of the Bronx and holds various programs. It has grown in popularity and people have donated more than 7,000 books.
“I believe every neighborhood deserves a bookstore,” she stressed.
Devaughn was doing payroll for Zabar’s in Manhattan, but then COVID-19 arrived and lost the job. Since then she has put all of her focus on creating the mobile bookstore.
In September 2020 she received a $4,000 grant from LISC and Lowe’s, which helped buy, renovate and hire an interior designer for a bus.
“The bus will travel the streets of the Bronx to bring literature to the people,” she explained. “We’ll to grow our relationship with the community. We are happy to collaborate with local businesses, schools, parks groups, shelters and organizations that encourage literacy in our community. We’ll host outdoor read-alouds, open mics, writing workshops, arts and crafts…pretty much anything a traditional bookstore does. Eventually, when it is safe we plan to host small events inside of our “bookstore on wheels”
During 2020 she held virtual events where authors read books, but is now ready for the real deal and to make her mark on the borough.
Devaughn plans to have the bus ready by the end of March and the goal is to have at the James Baldwin Outdoor Learning Center every Saturday and on Sunday through November and at a farmer’s market in Riverdale.
Long-term Devaughn wants to set up reading rooms outside of the bus as well.
“The most important aspect of the concept is you can go inside,” she explained. “People in the Bronx want a bookstore. This is something the borough has never had.
If anyone wishes to donate to the final renovations of the bus go to http://bronxboundbooks.shop/gofundme/.