For 32-year-old Books of Wonder, New York City’s oldest children’s-only bookstore, it wasn’t so much the effect of the downturn of the economy on book sales that forced it to turn to indiegogo to stay in business, but cupcakes. As owner Peter Glassman wrote on the store’s indiegogo site, which went live on Monday, “When we moved into our current space eight years ago, we leased out 40% of the space to a well-established NYC bakery to provide a cafe for our customers. Unfortunately, the Great Recession was even harder on cupcakes than children’s books and they were forced to close, still owing us many months back rent and utilities.”
Although Glassman estimates that the store lost over $300,000, he told PW that the present campaign for $100,000 would be enough to keep Books of Wonder open well into next year. “It’s not like anybody’s threatening to close the doors tomorrow,” he said. “We’re okay through the end of the year. We’re looking for a reserve of capital for the slow period in January. I should have done this a year ago, but my pride kept me from doing it.”
Glassman sent out a call for help to authors and illustrators two months ago. As a result, many not only provided postcards that can be reprinted exclusively for the campaign, but gave Glassman the originals to sweeten the pot. Donations came in from Adam Rex to Barry Moser, David Wiesner, Elisha Cooper, Robert Sabuda, and William Joyce. He’s also put together collections of signed books from the store’s shelves, such as a four-book, 10-poster set of Maurice Sendak.
In the first day of the campaign, Books of Wonder raised more than $14,000 through indiegogo's site. But a number of large donors and people uncomfortable with giving their credit card information online have also called the store directly and their donations aren’t included in that figure. In addition, 18 months after the Cupcake Café closed, Books of Wonder signed a contract with a new tenant, who prefers to be unnamed for now.