Along the Lower East Side, discover New York Citys one and only traveling book cart. Brittany Bond, founder of Common Books, always wanted to open a bookstore of her own, and so she did- only on wheels. Bond sets up shop in Seward or East River Park, a common ground where all are welcome. She maintains an ever-growing selection of female written paperback books, specifically curated for all people. Bond expresses a profound appreciation for her collection of poetry, prose, and novels, “there is something precious about them.” Unlike rare gems and stones, the universality of the books that Brittany Bond sells is what makes them so precious.
The ingenious idea to create a portable bookstore hit Bond when she discovered the flexibility of New York’s Vending Policy. “Anything political or art-based or written matter, you do not need a business permit for… it cultivates a creative community.” She expresses particular gratitude for the First Amendment of the Constitution which, along with speech, religion, and peaceful assembly, has provided individuals with the freedom of imagination.
The little black cart is a treasure chest of knowledge. It houses powerful female authors, such as Jamaica Kincaid, Elizabeth Bishop, and Doris Lessing, to name a few. Bond is an advocate for the often marginalized voice of women in literature. “A lot of the stigma around female writers is that they just write pulp things.” Pulp fiction is a genre of literature that surfaced during the 19th-century but really became popular during the Great Depression for its cheap paper. Pulp stories are characterized by swift-moving, predictable plotlines, that usually consist of a masculine hero and a damsel in distress. Bond challenges this false presumption, utilizing the eloquent language of her female-written books as an arsenal. A current favorite of Bond’s is Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens; a collection of essays that profoundly articulates womanism. This theory examines the struggle of women of color to broaden feminism during the 1970s Women’s Liberation Movement.
There is another criterion for the books Bond sells; They must be paperback. “ It might seem confusing why I sell paperbacks because a lot of pulp fiction is written just in paperback,” she says. However, the medium is perfectly suited for readers commuting on the subways, waiting in laundromats, or sitting in the park. Additionally, Bond says “in certain communities around literature, there is a snootiness,” which has made books unattainable to the general population. Bond wanted stories to be accessible to anyone and any lifestyle. “You shouldn’t have to break your back to read a book.” Paperbacks bridge the gap between knowledge and the people.
Like the progressive writers of the books she sells, Britany Bond is a pioneer. Utilizing Common Books as a vessel, Bond promotes the idea that literature is not designated to a specific place or person. Rather it is common; it belongs to the people.