May 2012 | Nate Pedersen

Crowdfunding for Bookstores

Josh Niesse, (second from left), who we profiled recently for our Bright Young Things series, runs Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia.  His bookshop, where he also hosts events such as documentary screenings, is part of a larger building that went up for sale earlier this month.  Josh's landlord offered him a deal: if he could raise $8,000 in a narrow window for a down payment, he could stay in his space.  Instead of pursuing a traditional loan, Josh turned to "crowdfunding," a new and creative way to finance projects.  He launched a funding campaign with Indigogo and has so far received almost $3,500 for his bookshop.

Crowdfunding is accurately (and cumbersomely) described on Wikipedia as "the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money and other resources together, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations."  The most prominent sites to facilitate crowdfunding are Kickstarter and Indiegogo, where a host of creative projects await your cash.  (It's difficult to browse either site without contributing to a project -- so have your credit card ready before clicking on those links).

While formerly the exclusive haunt of artists, crowdfunding sites have lately found themselves hosting a wide variety of projects, including citizen journalism drives, political campaigns, and small business launches.  And the sites have been increasingly used by bookshop proprietors to start their businesses, expand their activities, or to simply stay in operation.

Here are a few recent bookshop campaigns, both successful and not:

La Casa Azul, a bookshop in East Harlem.

Atlantis Books, on a Grecian island.

Boneshaker Books, a radical bookshop in Minneapolis.

The Bluebird Books Bus, a mobile bookshop in Florida.

And here's the link to Josh's campaign, in case you would like to help him purchase his bookshop space.

What do you think of crowdfunding and bookstores?  Is this the future of bookshop financing?