L.A. loves a mobile business. We inspired the food truck frenzy in the early aughts. We embraced the fleet of fashion-mobiles that followed. Basically, if you can bring your store closer to us so we don’t have to sit in traffic, we’re into it. Former Brooklynites Emory Harkins and Alexa Trembly caught onto this quickly. After just a year as Angelenos, the pair conceived the next big thing in transportable commerce—a bookstore on wheels.
This fall the duo launches Twenty Stories, the little blue bookmobile that you’ll soon spot making the rounds at markets, universities, and business districts throughout our sprawling city. Each month the renovated vintage van will be stocked with (you guessed it) 20 handpicked works of contemporary literature, including fiction, poetry, nonfiction and literary mags. Harkins and Trembly—who are both writers—say they hope the project will be a way to foster community in L.A.’s sometimes-fragmented literary scene.
“It was a little harder to find a literary community here,” says Harkins. “Most of the writers we met were screenwriters … when we met writers who were fiction writers or poets or essayists it was really exciting.”
“There was this instant kind of connection that you could feel,” says Trembly. “Like there was like an absence of a community in that sector of the literary space.”
Aside from curating a diverse and boundary-pushing selection (the first month’s lineup includes works by poet Claudia Rankine, bestselling novelist Emma Cline, and L.A.-based Pulitzer winner Viet Thanh Nguyen) the pair wants to turn the van into a place where writerly connections can bloom.“We plan to set up a little cafe table with chairs and an umbrella, so people can sit outside, enjoy their book, and talk to us about what they’re writing and reading right now,” says Harkins. “Make it kind of a space instead of just a grab-and-go.”
In the coming months, they’ll also launch a beachside bookclub, a writing workshop, and a series of readings featuring local authors. The food truck-inspired setup even has them considering culinary collaborations. “We were thinking about partnering with a food truck, and being like — taco and a book!” says Trembly with a laugh. TBH, Angelenos would eat that idea right up.
RELATED: The 14 Best Mom-and-Pop Bookstores in L.A.