Edmonton

Bookshop on wheels makes the connection between books and readers

All kinds of books — new and used, hardcover and paperback — are wedged into the  bright, yellow shelves of the Daisy Chain Book Company. But unlike most bookstores, this one comes to you.

More than 2,200 titles wedged onto the shelves of the Daisy Chain Book Company

Brandi Morpurgo's love of books and reading grew into a mobile book truck called the Daisy Chain Book Co. (Tara McCarthy/CBC)

As business ideas go, this was a novel one.

All kinds of books — new and used, hardcover and paperback — are wedged into the bright, yellow shelves of the Daisy Chain Book Company. 

But unlike most bookstores, this one comes to you, says Brandi Morpurgo, owner and operator of what she calls Alberta's only bookshop on wheels.

"My idea actually just came from learning about what people's life patterns were like and discovering that not everybody wants to go to a mega store," Morpurgo told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM

"People want to stay where they are — and they really value things that come to them."

Morpurgo describes herself as a parent, a former foster parent, a bookseller, a barista and a social worker — but more than anything she is a reader and a believer in book clubs. 

She had long had the idea for a mobile bookstore and finally decided to make the story come true. 

"I loved discovering that my idea is actually an old one," Morpurgo writes on her website, describing the travelling peddlers with horse-drawn wagons who would bring their wares to villages and towns.

There were some notably more modern challenges involved in getting the bookmobile up and running.

A Ford Transit full-size van was located and shelving installed to hold about 2,200 titles. Then they needed to figure out insulation, flooring, a heater, lighting and a special battery to power it all. Her husband handled a lot of the logistics but many others contributed ideas and inspiration, she said.

The cargo van was outfitted with flooring, shelves, heating and lights. (Tara McCarthy/CBC)

Most of the stock is second-hand. 

"I like the idea of recycling what already exists and there are a lot of people who are overwhelmed with books, they're downsizing, they're Marie Kondo-ing, whatever it is, and they just don't know what to do with them," she says. "So I drive around and pick up donations and clean them up and get them ready."

The Daisy Chain Bookstore got rolling early this year; since spring, its calendar (located on her website) has been packed with markets, festivals and regular community visits. 

As for the name, "daisy" comes from her love of the happy flower while "chain" speaks to the new connections of her unusual travelling book "club."

"[It's] a link of chains is a link of things that are happy together, which is me connecting all the readers — from donations to people who are getting the books — all together."

Precious cargo. We'll hear from a local woman behind the wheel of a mobile book shop. 4:33

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