Pop-up Bookstores: Saving the Printed Book, and Bookstores, One Pop at a Time

05/13/2011 03:51 pm ET | Updated Jul 13, 2011

Pop-up bookstores are an international phenomenon, from New York to Chicago to Honolulu to London to Berlin -- and now one has come to Pittsburgh and it's the biggest one ever. Twenty-four thousand square feet of vacant space has been turned into a temporary bookstore -- exactly where a Borders used to be. For one month, Fleeting Pages, a coalition of independent presses, authors, artists, magazines and zines, is stocking the space with books, magazines, zines, comics and art.

Fleeting Pages' fleeting bookstore offers books from the smaller presses, both independent publishing houses and self-publishing venues, including non-fiction, fiction poetry, graphic novels, zines and comics. In addition, all kinds of workshops are being planned, from making your own zine, to how to self-publish, to how to start up volunteer-run bookstores.

In my own town, with its many vacant shopfronts, I would love to marshal the forces for a month-long used books store, a chance for all of us to recycle our own overcrowded bookshelves, sharing what we've read and loved and finding new morsels (or meals!) of written works to bring home and devour. Every year the Halloween store shows up for a month or two, a seasonal and fleeting emporium of costumes, decorations and treats. If the ghouls can do it, why can't we book lovers?

The goal of Fleeting Pages is to lead the way for innovative thinking about the future -- and books -- in whatever forms necessary. As it says on their website (not a fleeting one, I hope: too many resources in one place!):

"There are a lot of great bookstores out there who do what they do really well and have a local population that both appreciates and supports them. There are a lot of people in the publishing industry with ideas based on their experience. And there are a lot of consumers who know what they would like in a bookstore that would make shop there. Exploring all of those ideas about the future of the bookstore is something that we hope will happen during the month. We have an open call for submissions on the topic- bookstores. Past, present, and future."

Open call, people! Join in, buy some books and remember, as Barnes & Noble says in its new Nook campaign, "Reading is Forever". Let's make sure bookstores are too.