Moe’s Books starts GoFundMe campaign to cover losses during closure

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Moe’s Books owner Doris Moskowitz started a GoFundMe campaign Friday to help cover revenue lost during the coronavirus pandemic.

With a long history of activism, the woman-owned secondhand bookstore is also seeking donations so it can continue serving its community, according to Moskowitz. As of press time, the campaign has raised $19,764 of the $100,000 it is hoping to reach for essential operations costs.

“It was a tricky thing to ask for the GoFundMe, but it makes sense for where we are and what we need,” Moskowitz said. “We don’t know how long we can go on … we’re just trying to be hopeful.

Since UC Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement, Moe’s Books has been conscientious of an individual’s right to express themselves, according to Moskowitz. She added that during the Free Speech Movement, her father and the store’s founder Moe Moskowitz would make and sell “bawdy” graphic novels that covered myriad issues from middle-class values to sex.

Moskowitz added that “there probably isn’t a bigger store in California” that also offers a curated selection of secondhand and rare books.

“I was an undergraduate and a graduate at Berkeley and Moe’s was a very big part of my life,” said UC Berkeley Director of English Undergraduate Studies Oliver Arnold. Moe’s can claim to be the bookstore that’s willing to stock texts that other used book stores wouldn’t offer, like foreign language and philosophy, it can claim to be the most intellectual in town along with University Press Books.”

Arnold added that the bookstore offers like-minded individuals a place to meet. According to Arnold, the closure of Moe’s Books would have a “significant” effect on the community and the experience of being in a bookstore would be “lost.”

Moe’s Books makes 20% of its monthly revenue from its online store, which is operated from West Oakland, according to Moskowitz. She added that while Moe’s Books has continued to maintain that revenue, the other 80% has been lost as a result of the store’s physical location being closed.

With the funds raised, Moskowitz plans to buy more books and “bring staff back.” According to the GoFundMe page, filling a bookstore of that size requires a “constant stream” of books. While the store has been closed, the reduced income has made it difficult for Moe’s Books to replenish its stock.

Moskowitz said she appreciates the community’s response as it shows there are people who still believe that books are essential.

“Everything we can do to try and preserve the places we love in Berkeley and Oakland is really important,” Arnold said. “We don’t want to go back into a world diminished.”

Contact Eric Rogers at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @eric_rogers_dc.