(Courtesy of Hooray for Books)

Hooray for Books!, a children’s bookstore in Alexandria, Va., wants to start a new chapter, and it’s asking customers for help. Today, the six-year-old store launches a crowdsourcing campaign on Indiegogo to raise $50,000.

Ellen Klein, the owner, finds herself in a familiar post-recession dilemma: Her business is healthy, growing at about 6 percent a  year, but she can’t get a bank loan. Nevertheless, when space behind her crowded store became available recently, she saw an opportunity (and the landlord is giving her a discount). She has sufficient capital to pay for an expansion this winter that will double the size of the store to 4,000 square feet. She’s hoping the Indiegogo campaign will help her buy new bookcases, computers, library carts and A/V equipment for author appearances. (The store holds about 300 events a year.)

Such appeals are increasingly common for indie bookstores, which present themselves not just as another business but as a community service. I first became aware of this trend back in 2012 when I reported on a campaign to save famed Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, Calif.


(Courtesy of Hooray for Books)

Klein, who once practiced law in Washington, says Hooray for Books! provides several significant benefits to the community beyond merely selling books and employing two full-time and eight part-time staff members. “We take authors on school visits at no charge, saving PTAs thousands of dollars in honoraria,” she said. “We put together in-school book fairs, create fun community events like the annual ‘Where’s Waldo in Alexandria?’ scavenger hunt and sponsor book clubs for children ages 6-18.”

The store’s appeal for funds is largely based on its social good, but contributors to the Indiegogo campaign will also receive tote bags, gift cards and other perks. Large donors ($1,000) will be invited to a gala with local authors; gigantic donors ($5,000) will receive 30 percent off at Hooray for Books! for life.

The campaign runs till Nov. 5.