One of the world’s most famous bookstores launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to stop its doors from closing during the coronavirus outbreak. 

The window of the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.
The window of the City Lights Bookstore from outside © Manakin / Getty Images

City Lights Books in San Francisco, founded by the famed poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1953, is an iconic shop known for its associations with the Beat poets. The shop has been a destination for free spirits and booklovers since 1953, and features a hand-lettered sign by Ferlinghetti that reads 'A Kind of Library Where Books Are Sold.' 

The exterior of City Lights Books.
The Beat Generation lives on at City Lights bookstore in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco © Steve Wood / Shutterstock

But as businesses around the world have temporarily closed their doors due to coronavirus, City Lights Books has also felt the strain. Elaine Katzenberger, publisher and CEO of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, launched an online fundraiser to keep the shop afloat. Katzenberger appealed for donations, noting that the shop is closed indefinitely. “Unlike some shops, we’re unable even to process online orders, since we want our booksellers to remain safely at home. With no way to generate income, our cash reserves are quickly dwindling, with bills coming due and with a primary commitment to our staff, who we sent home with full pay and healthcare, and who we hope to keep as healthy and financially secure as possible”. 

With a fundraising goal set at $300,000, the shop has already smashed their target and raised more than $470,000 from nearly 10,000 donors. After the massive success of the campaign, Katzenberger added an update thanking people for their support, and noting their hopes to reopen as soon as possible. She also spoke with Ferlinghetti, now 101, who was delighted with the response. 

People browse through the shelves of a bookstore.
A customer browses at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco © James Kirkikis / Shutterstock

This will be welcome news for anyone enamored with San Francisco’s iconic Summer of Love and literary legacy, which will be waiting to be explored at a time when restrictions are eased and travel resumes. 

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