For much of its existence, a teal 1962 VW Transporter worked on a Coloradan cherry farm carrying boxes of fruit from one place to another. Today, that very same truck, now known as the Book Bus, is rolling around Cincinnati with boxes of literature cherry-picked by Melanie Moore.
Melanie, a former school teacher of 25 years, retired from Leaves of Learning in Deer Park to pursue her dream of owning her own book store. She explored the idea of opening a brick and mortar location where she could sell her books, but ultimately decided that wasn't for her. She wasn't willing to commit to a physical location.
Then it hit her: that teal 1962 VW Transporter her husband, Tony, owned could be her ride to starting her business. While on a work trip, he had purchased it on a Los Angeles pier after it made the trip from that Colorado cherry farm years earlier. "I saw the truck and everything just flowed from there. The vision became clear," Melanie says.
For the next two years, she workshopped the concept of the Book Bus, attending classes and building the brand. Tony, a full-time flavor chemist for a Los Angeles-based company, often traveled for work and took Melanie with him. On their travels, Melanie searched for books that were hard or impossible to find in the United States to add to the Book Bus when she returned to Cincinnati. As an avid reader of adult fiction, 80% of her collection consists of books she's read and enjoyed herself.
A ROAD TO READERS
Melanie doesn't subscribe to the literal version of the saying "don't judge a book by its cover." She only stocks new and like-new books in an effort to keep her stock looking fresh and presentable. If a book is used, it can't look like it's been worn if it wants to roll in the VW. And by "new" books, I mean freshly printed, not just contemporary fiction; she sells books that were written over a variety of decades.
The Book Bus primarily operates at pop-ups when the weather is amenable and at coffee shops when it isn't. Book-seekers can generally find it at events like City Flea in Washington Park, Second Sunday on Main in Over-the-Rhine, and at the Hamilton Flea. To ensure readers are able to find the Book Bus, Melanie updates Instagram and Facebook with her intended whereabouts as the day progresses.
But it's not all about sales. As a former teacher, Melanie has a passion for getting books into the hands of children—especially those without the means to get them. She donates a portion of her profits from the Book Bus as well as her time to purchasing books for children in low-income schools. Additionally, she donates time to helping inside the Rothenberg Academy's school library.
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