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The Book Bus, an independent bookstore on wheels, brings the joy of reading to those who need it most

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In the middle of a nationwide heatwave, I drive to Wyoming Community Coffee—15 minutes north of Cincinnati, Ohio—to meet Moore. We were supposed to meet the day prior at Coffee Emporium in downtown Cincinnati, but a torrential downpour dampened our plans. As Moore says, “Books and rain don’t mix.” (Luckily, she has a climate-controlled room in her house to protect the books from the elements when she’s not on the road.)

When I arrive, the Book Bus sits in front of the building, but the tarp is drawn, with neither Moore nor any books in sight. Even so, a family walking a dog stops in front of the teal Volkswagen to inspect the bright orange logo.

The Book Bus, with its tarps down on a humid day. | Photo: Morgan P. Vickers

As I walk inside the coffee shop, Moore greets me with a smile. “Sometimes, when it’s as hot as it is today, they let me set up shop inside,” she says.

Though the Book Bus is an independent, mobile store, Moore often partners with coffee shops and community markets across the greater Cincinnati area to set up a pop-up shop for a day or two. In the winter months—or during a heatwave—businesses like Wyoming Community Coffee invite Moore to park the bus in front of the building and bring some boxes of books inside to sell. During the warmer months, Moore still partners with local businesses, but instead opens the cotton flaps, displays her books in the sunlight, and invites customers to spend time walking around the bus, taking in all it has to offer.

For both Moore and the local businesses, the relationship is mutually beneficial. “These businesses usually like to have me come, because it gives them a special something to draw people in,” Moore says. A one-woman business, Moore drives The Book Bus, acts as a salesperson, sets up partnerships across Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, and runs all social media accounts. According to Moore, the Book Bus has enough fans that she usually ends up bringing her own customers. “Even today, I introduced this coffee shop to a couple of regular [Book Bus] customers who have never been here before,” she says.

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