Open Books is expanding into Logan Square, selling used books to give back

Cookbooks, uncommon books and the odd little bit of fiction stuffed prospects’ arms in the course of the first week at Open Books’ new Logan Sq. location.

A nonprofit group devoted to youngsters’s literacy, Open Books operates three shops and a web-based retailer to fund free books for youngsters and school rooms throughout the town.

The storefront opened at 2068 Milwaukee Ave. On January 18th. Logan Sq. residents had been enthusiastic prospects, bringing in tens of 1000’s of {dollars} within the first week, in keeping with Eric Johnson, CEO of Open Books.

“I instructed my employees that the response we bought inside our first week was one thing I might count on a couple of weeks later,” Johnson mentioned.

With growth, Open Books has change into the most important used bookstore chain within the metropolis. The nonprofit maintains shops within the West Loop and Pilsen, in addition to a vacation pop-up store in Ukrainian Village.

Johnson mentioned Logan Sq. is already house to many longtime guide donors.

“Individuals are merely thrilled that we’re within the neighborhood,” he mentioned. “These are buddies each new and outdated.”

With Logan Sq. up and operating, Open Books now holds about 70,000 books. Most are donated, however workers generally purchase books in extra to make sure various choices in shops, Johnson mentioned.

The group usually purchases youngsters’s books that function Black and Latino characters or are written by Black and Latino authors.

“Once we give away free books to youngsters and their households, these books want to have the ability to communicate to these youngsters and households,” Johnson mentioned.

Open Books funds youth literacy packages with the shop’s income. Johnson mentioned the affect of the books purchased in Logan Sq. is being felt in Austin, Garfield Park, and the faculties on the South Aspect.

“We often intention to put our packages in neighborhoods which have been traditionally deprived and marginalized,” he mentioned. “Via poverty and, most significantly, a common lack of assets and entry to assets.”

About 200 youngsters throughout Chicago attend after-school packages hosted by Open Books. The group additionally companions with Dolly Parton’s Fantasy Library Sending a free guide to youngsters each month from delivery to 5 years outdated.

Within the retailer, books promote for between $1 and $10, with a restricted number of uncommon books for $25 to $100.

Earlier than shifting into the 4,000-square-foot storefront, the carpenters put in a rest room, again staircase, 130 bookcases, and reception desks. Native artist Nick “Sick” Fisher painted a mural on the entrance of the constructing.

Johnson mentioned renovation prices got here within the “larger 5 figures, decrease six figures”.

Open Books located at 2068 North Milwaukee in the Logan Square neighborhood, Thursday, January 26, 2023.

Carpenters put in practically 130 bookcases within the 4,000-square-foot Open Books retailer forward of opening day on Jan. 18.

Tyler Basquiak Lariviere/Solar Occasions

Open Books employees and volunteers have hosted poetry contests, guide festivals, and readings within the West Loop and Pilsen. Johnson mentioned related occasions will probably be held on the Logan Sq. retailer.

Johnson and the Logan Sq. Chamber of Commerce additionally hope the storefront will improve foot visitors to Milwaukee Avenue. Johnson mentioned many storefronts close to Open Books are empty.

“Unbiased bookstores are the lifeblood of the neighborhood,” Ald. Daniel Spata (I) mentioned in an announcement. “Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Sq. has been eager for an area like Open Books for some time.”

Previous to opening day, Open Books hosted pop-up bookstores exterior of Logan Sq. companies together with Revolution Brewing, Consolation Station, Center Forehead, and Rattling Wonderful Espresso.

Because the library continues to endear itself to Logan Sq., Johnson plans to maneuver a few of the donation packing containers elsewhere, increasing Open Books’ attain.

“We could not be happier with the selection we made,” Johnson mentioned. “And we simply count on that this specific bar that we have set ourselves in goes to proceed to thrive.”

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