Bronx Bound Books: A New Way of Selling Books


Latanya DeVaughn opened a mobile bookstore to cater to underserved Bronx residents. (Courtesy of Bronx Bound Books)

Last month, 41-year-old author Latanya DeVaughn debuted her new independent bookstore, Bronx Bound Books. The business carries a total of 3,000 new and used books for a variety of different age groups. 

Instead of opening a typical bookstore, DeVaughn decided to put her business on a bus and sell books without being limited to a single location. Through fundraising, book donations and a team that shared her vision, DeVaughn was able to bring her dream to completion.

DeVaughn said that she had always wanted to own a bookstore. When a  friend showed her a photo of a bookstore on a bus, she knew it was the perfect way to achieve her  dream, especially with high rent prices in New York City. 

However, making this vision a reality didn’t come without its challenges, said DeVaughn. She wanted to work with people and vendors that cared as much as she did. This project was for her community, and DeVaughn wanted it to mean something, or at least have the mission be understood by those involved. This proved more difficult than DeVaughn originally thought. 

“I wanted someone who cared about the project just as much as I did. I wanted to work with people that actually care about the community,” DeVaughn explained in a personal interview. 

DeVaughn also struggled with the delay of opening her bookstore to the public once she had finally settled on the right company to work with. The project was set to be completed at the end of June but took an extra 60 days to complete. 

 “Although it was very challenging and frustrating, the community was very patient and understood that these things happened,” DeVaughn said. “However, I had a lot of pressure on me because I am raising money with the community and telling them every week that I will be out with the bus eventually, so this was probably the most stress I had experienced throughout the whole process.”

DeVaughn said she believes that it’s important to have more independent bookstores in the Bronx. As a part of the Bronx community herself, it is easier to form a more personal connection with local customers. She described the environment of independent bookstores such as her own as being “more inviting and warm” than larger bookstores. 

DeVaughn feels that she can do things that some larger bookstores can’t such as hosting local authors and participating in programs with schools. 

“I have a program that I’m starting at a school in February. I don’t think Barnes & Noble can go in there and do what I’m about to do at the school,” DeVaughn said in her interview.

DeVaughn’s future plans for Bronx Bound Books include even more partnerships with schools and homeless shelters and working with organizations that focus on incarcerated parents. Growing up, DeVaughn had parents that were always in and out of jail, so it is important to her to build programs that will help decrease recidivism and allow parents to transition smoothly back into their family units by reforming bonds with their children. For example, a parent and child can reconnect through a book club designed to allow them to read books together while the parent is incarcerated, explained DeVaughn. This bond formed by way of reading can then be recreated when the parent is finally released. 

“This can help make the child’s parent a human being again,” she explained. “On TV, a criminal is this big bad monster, and I think trying to create an experience that’s normal for a child and a parent during those circumstances can help them find their common ground when they come out.” 

There are a few instances where DeVaughn can recall knowing that she made the right decision to open her bookstore. DeVaughn loves being a part of enhancing literacy within the community. While she was at an event, an older man had asked her quietly whether she had an easier book for him because he was just learning how to read. 

“At that moment I knew I was on the right path to providing the community with what they needed,” said DeVaughn.