Two years ago, on August 6, 2021, we opened the door to Booksweet for the first time. A pandemic, a host of global shipping and production delays, a manga warehouse fire, and Plymouth road construction were no match for YOU, readers.
Our business philosophy is pretty simple: show up fully with your community and they will show up for you. And oh my goodness, did you ever.
Together, we raised $14,622 and more than 150 books in Booksweet’s community donation efforts this year alone. We got to know you through everyday shop chit-chats and through the 40+ free, public events that we hosted this year.
At Booksweet events, we wrote together, set intentions together, we’ve made art together, advocated for banned books together, loved scifi and fantasy reads together, rallied for abortion rights together, fostered queer and trans community together, connected over shared heritage(s) and anti-racism together, learned together, and grew together.
We’re co-creating something important, readers. Something bigger than any of us alone. Something that stories and books are particularly skilled at unlocking. We are co-creating culture together, doing what we can to make a world deserving of the incredible people that fill it.
Just look at the change we made together over the last 12 months:
- ACLU – During season 1 of Banned Book Club, we raised $343.96 for the ACLU by donating 10% of all sales from our Banned Book Club reading list to the ACLU, defending book bannings and challenges in court. This donation was made at the end of Banned Books Week in September 2022.
- African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County – our $25.87 donation was made possible through the donation of 10% of all sales from our Black Joy and our Racial Justice reading list.
- Ann Arbor Open – through our 2022 Library Love Day, we were able to donate $447.08 to help resource this public AAPS middle school’s library.
- Apiary – our $105.85 donation was made possible through 10% of sales from our Feminist Reads for Now + Next list supported this non-profit national hub for direct service organizations from June 2022-November 2022.
- Black Men Read – this year, Booksweet readers purchased more than 30 books for the BMR Team through their Booksweet wishlist and our holiday Giving Tree to distribute throughout schools and libraries in Washtenaw County. Join us in this effort!
- Community Action Network — thanks to an initiative from the American Booksellers Association, Candlewick Press, and General Motors, we were able to provide 120 copies of The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat to children in CAN’s programs.
- Clague Middle School – through our 2022 Library Love Day, we were able to donate $202.24 to help resource this public AAPS middle school’s library.
- Michigan Medicine – with the support of our readers and in partnership with Michigan Medicine, $2,765 from 34 donors to stock the shelves of the in-patient adult and youth psychiatric units with a hand-picked curated selection of healing reads from Booksweet. In addition to this crowdfunding effort, the Joseph and Karen Krantz Family Charitable Foundationwe contributed a $10,000 matching gift for a total of $12,765.
- Moms Demand Action – we donated 10% of the sales from our Day of Dads and Moms Rock reading lists to this grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence, for a total $50 donation. When we celebrate parenthood, we also celebrate parent-led efforts to make a safer world for the kids that we pour our hearts into raising.
- Native Justice Coalition – with the support of our readers, we donated $108.47 during Indigenous People’s Week in October 2022 through our Indigenous Reading List.
- PEN America – we are currently saving 10% of all sales from our Banned Book Club reading list, 10% of all sales from our limited edition “I Love Banned Books” t-shirts, and 50% of all sales from our “I Love Banned Books” stickers to make a big donation to the ACLU as part of Banned Books Week this October. To date (8/6/23), we’ve raised $310.53. Join us in this effort!
- Stand With Trans – we raised $58.27 for Stand With Trans during the month of March in honor of Trans Visibility Day. Additionally, 100% of the $5 tickets from our in-shop event with Sophie Labelle fed this effort. We also provide free shipping for all of the reads that are part of Stand With Trans’ virtual banned book club.
- STEAM @ Northside – through our Library Love Day last fall, we were able to donate $465.53 to help resource the library at STEAM @ Northside, a public K-8 AAPS school.
- Washtenaw Association for Community Advocacy – in celebration of Disability Pride Month this July, we donated $50 with the support of sales from our Disability Pride list.
- United Way of Southeast Michigan’s 21-Day Equity Challenge has been a part of Booksweet co-owners Shaun and Truly’s lives for several years, and in 2023 Booksweet hosted conversations around the challenge’s prompts and resources to assist our readers in building equity discussions to their lives. Truly and Shaun also donated $500 to sponsor the Equity Challenge.
This is only the beginning. As Booksweet enters its third year of business, we are focused on growing in ways that will help us build on our existing partnerships, foster new community relationships, and better serve our readers who stop into our shop every day.
Here are some of the areas we’re looking to grow in Year 3:
- Bulk orders. We’ve enjoyed outfitting community organizations, university departments, church groups, book clubs, and more with books for reading groups, professional development, and other shared reading experiences. If you need a large set of books, let us know! We offer a 20% discount on orders of 20+ books.
- School orders. Whether your classroom needs a set of twenty copies or a selection of books for students, we’re here to help. Reach out about bulk orders or set up a wishlist to share with your community!
- Author visits to schools. We work with a number of authors from Washtenaw County (and further afield!) who would be great speakers for in-school readings or presentations on a variety of themes. We look forward to working with you to bring these voices to your students!
- Library development. Let us find the right books for your needs! In 2022 and 2023, we worked closely with Michigan Medicine staff to curate a selection of fiction and nonfiction “healing reads” for their adult and pediatric psychiatric inpatient communities. This year, too, we collaborated with Black Men Read to select picture books for Community Action Network summer campers to take home. Whether you’re looking to build a resource library for your workplace, a private library for your home, or need some expert assistance choosing books for another grand initiative, we’re here to help! Reach out to Shaun with an idea of what you’re looking for to get things started.
- Offsite events. We held more than 40 in-store events in our second year, and participated in nearly as many in various spots throughout Washtenaw County. Thanks to partnerships with Ann Arbor District Libraries, Ann Arbor Summer Festival, and many more, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting readers at author events out and around the community. If you’re hosting an author and need a bookseller on hand, talk to Shaun!
- Pre-orders. If you are an author looking for an eager, responsive team to manage your global pre-order campaign, consider Booksweet! We’ve handled a few huge ones with shipping all across the globe. Our handy website makes pre-order campaigns super streamlined and straightforward. If you’re a reader and you’re excited to read a book that’s coming out soon, please consider a pre-order through Booksweet (you can do this online or in-person with payment at the time of the order or at pickup).
- In-store and online shopping. Thanks to all of you who choose to make Booksweet your go-to bookstore!
As our business grows and our partnerships deepen, we can’t wait to see what happens next.
We are because you are. And that’s the real future we’re trying to nurture.
Happy Booksweet Birthday to YOU, readers. You are the best.
–Shaun & Truly