Local Bookstore Takes to Crowdsourcing to Avoid Closing Doors For Good

Local Bookstore Takes to Crowdsourcing to Avoid Closing Doors For Good

January 30th, 2013 by Posted in Lorem Ipsum Books, MIT Media Lab,Slideshow



Eviction looms over Inman Square treasureLorem Ipsum Books. The independent bookstore is “fighting for its life,” and has resorted to crowdsourcing in an effort to keep its doors open.

When MIT Media Lab graduate Matt Mankins, the current CTO of Fast Company, founded Lorem Ipsum Books in 2003, the goal was to bring innovation to the used bookstore industry. Ten years ago, he was watching physical bookstores run themselves out of businesses because they were running away from technology.

Yet, with sales down 50 percent, now they’re running out of business, too, despite embracing the digital age. At Lorem Ipsum, each book’s cost is determined by software Mankins built, a technology that searches online competitor prices in real-time, factoring in the book’s condition and rarity. Over time, the shop has become beloved for its offbeat, quirky charm and lower prices, and has stolen the literary “Best Used Bookstore” crown for three years running.

Mankins recently took to Hacker News, posing the question: “Know of a hacker in Cambridge or Boston who wants a bookstore?” He wrote:

We tried many things, but were unable to get the store from red to black.
They just deleted our Wikipedia page, citing progress as being ‘unremarkable’. Clearly something has to be done…

It’s time to innovate again.

Because that’s just it–Lorem Ipsum wants to keep innovating, but they now owe more than $23,000 in back rent.

To help pay the debt off, the bookstore created an Indiegogo campaign, pleading, “Our doors will close forever. Eviction day is coming. The story doesn’t have to end this way. Here’s what you can do right now to save the bookstore.”

Lorem Ipsum is asking for $29,000 in total. After paying the $23,300 in back rent, they plan to use the rest of the money to build a financial buffer and ship any perks they’re offering through Indiegogo. All extra money will be to fund an ongoing research and development program designed to help the bookstore industry in general.

Although raising $29,000 in two days–yes, two days–seems impossible, Mankins writes, “That’s what they said when we opened our doors eight years ago. We’ve survived all these years, let’s not stop now.”

For a peek inside the Inman Square store, check out the photos from Lorem Ipsum’s Facebook page below.