Thursday, May 12 2022

Stacks and boxes of thousands of donated books flood the home of Donald Alexander as he prepares to realize his vision of a used bookstore in Del Ray.

Alexander, founder and former owner of Book Bank on King Street, plans to open The Company of Books, a second-hand bookstore, at 1712 Mount Vernon Ave. in August to create a neighborhood space for literature.

Since asking community members on the social media platform Nextdoor to leave junk books at his home on East Windsor Avenue in mid-June, Alexander has said he has received around 5,000 pounds in ‘opportunity.

“I doubted I would be able to get enough contributions,” Alexander said. “I didn’t know people would be so generous. “

The Company of Books is a non-profit organization and will rely on volunteers and two paid managers to manage the day-to-day operations of the store under the direction of a board of directors. Alexander, the chairman of the board, said the revenue generated would pay for the bookstore’s rent, and he hopes to survey local residents to find Del Ray organizations in need of any remaining profits.

Although he plans to sell a wide range of genres, from science fiction to biographies, Alexander has received many books for teens and children and hopes to provide a wide selection for young readers. Alexander said the donated books are “in very good condition” with few marks, and he expects most books to sell for between $ 2 and $ 12.

Alexander said he was especially grateful to discover a set of books called “Modernist Cooking: The Art and Science of Cooking,” which sells for over $ 500 online. He chooses to sell the set on Amazon and use the money to cover the expenses of the store.

Due to COVID-19, Alexander said he could limit the number of customers allowed in the bookstore at any given time or open only by appointment. As a result, it remains uncertain what revenue the bookstore will generate in its first few months.

“It’s unpredictable,” Alexander said. “Even if the infection rate drops dramatically, it can spike again in November and December, and everyone has to close their stores again.”

Like many other businesses in Alexandria, Alexander said the bookstore will accept dogs, with his own mix of dogs, Jake, making frequent visits as The Company of Books mascot.

Although encouraged by the large number of books donated, Alexander said The Company of Books is unlikely to receive as much traffic as bookstores in the Old Town due to the decline in tourists, and he hopes he will. won’t have to use their own money to keep the bookstore running.

Still, he said the number of donations indicates a thriving community of local readers who could benefit from a second-hand bookstore.

“We’ll see if this works like a business and see if any volunteers actually show up,” Alexander said. “But so far it’s been a huge success. Apparently they like us here.

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