Black Bookseller Step Closer to Having Mobile Bookstore Drive Change In Rochester

Taylor Thomas, a Black, non-binary book enthusiast, always considered themselves a librarian to their core. Now, they are taking that life-long love of reading on the road with Archivist Books, a mobile Black-owned bookstore based in Rochester, NY.

According to the Democrat and Chronicle, this idea stemmed from Thomas selling secondhand books with diverse characters to provide affordable reading options for people of color.

This passion for literature grew from Thomas grandmother and high school English teacher, who introduced them to classics such as Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. However, classics from a white, heteronormative lens became “incredibly boring” for the book lover, leading them to their current journey.

And the journey proved to be quite successful, prompting Thomas to quit their day job in the middle of last year to embark on sourcing and reselling used books that focus on queer and diverse narratives with their virtual bookstore, The Secondhand Librarian.

However, Thomas;’ dream of a used book tour, however, is now a reality. With the purchase of a 1968 Globestar trailer, Thomas plans to transform it into a cozy, on-the-go bookstore to bring the novels to the people by January 2024.

The trailer van will be installed with shelves to transport as many books as possible, along with stools for individuals to partake in the pastime while inside. For Thomas, being one of the 6% of Black bookstore owners makes them a part of a movement for inclusivity and change in the market.

“Representation is so incredibly important because I believe that when marginalized people are behind the book-buying process, it helps to diversify the books going out into the world,” they said.

Support for the mobile book store is provided through their Gofundme campaign, which has raised over half its $10,000 target. Until they hit the road, Taylor is doing pop-up events to get Rochester reading.

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