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This Boricua Is Bringing An Indie Bookstore To Her Neighborhood Of 1.4 Million

Nöelle Santos is a woman on a mission: giving her borough a bookstore. The Bronx, where Santos resides, has ten colleges, 1.4 million people and, currently, zero bookstores. Santos told mitú that this was just unacceptable so she is doing something about it.

Nöelle Santos, 30, wants to give her neighborhood a unique and accessible bookstore.

THEY said "the Bronx wouldn't support a bookstore", but Bx bookworms came out and made it rain on the bookstore… making us the #1 sellers at the Bronx Museum's Holiday Market this weekend. ? #thebronxreads

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According to the website, The Lit. Bar will be more than just a bookstore. The dream project of Santos, who has a bachelor’s in business management and accounting and master’s in human resources management from Lehman College, will be a bookstore, wine bar and community center.

“I saw this petition going around online in October 2014 and it said that the Barnes & Noble in Co-Op City in Bay Plaza was in jeopardy of being closed; that the landlord didn’t want to extend the lease because they wanted a more affluent tenant, someone who could pay more rent,” Santos told mitú.

The looming, and eventual, threat of the Bronx losing their only bookstore launched Santos into action.

The Lit. Bar / Facebook

“I was inspired to do something about it. It was unacceptable to me that there are 1.4 million people in The Bronx and 10 colleges and we only had one bookstore. I decided right then and there that I was going to do something about it; that I was going to open my own bookstore and make it more accessible because I drive but that’s not the case for most people in my borough,” Santos told mitú. “It was really hard to get all the way to Co-Op City. There’s no train that goes over there; that goes all the way to the northeast. Also, it’s a corporate chain store so it never reflected our local people and the demographic that we have here, so I figured that I could do something really special for The Bronx by bringing a second bookstore and it just so happens that now I’m going to be the only one.”

Santos understands the importance of literacy in getting any education.

The Lit. Bar / Facebook

“First, I need to give people in The Bronx access to books. Just at its core, books and reading and literacy are the foundations for any type of learning so my people need access to books first and foremost. Secondly, specifically where I’m from in the south Bronx, we’ve seen a wave of gentrification and we’ve seen a more affluent demographic move into the borough and gentrification is a thing,” Santos mentioned to mitú about the need for a neighborhood bookstore where neighbors can meet and talk about tense issues.

But she also hopes that the bookstore becomes a place of community.

The Lit. Bar / Facebook

“I don’t want to see the borough become ‘The Tale Of Two Cities’ where you have the rich on one side and the poor on the other. I want to make a home for people to actually connect and communicate about these issues and become real neighbors and I can’t think of a better way to do that than through wine and books,” Santos expressed about her hopes of bringing community together through books.

The Boricua bookstore owner is also dedicated to making sure her store reflects her community.


“My inventory is going to be general interest but we’re going to specialize in women’s and local interest, whatever that may be at that time,” Santos said adding that, “about 60 percent of my population speaks Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish myself but I’m going to make sure that I have somebody on staff at all times that speaks Spanish and I’m also going to look into the statistics and I’m going to also address other languages other than Spanish.”

Santos also encourages others to start their own bookstores if they live in underserved neighborhoods because independent bookstores are doing just fine.


“We are thriving and don’t be afraid because you see Borders closing and Barnes & Noble closing down. Independent bookstore sales and statistics are nothing like Barnes & Noble,” Santos stated to mitú. “They abandoned local communities and became corporations and they are feeling the affects of that because the only way they can compete with Amazon is on price and you know who’s going to win there.”

If you’d like to donate to Santos’ crowdfunding efforts, you can click here.

indiegogo.com

READ: An Afro-Dominican Mom Made A Bilingual Book So Children And Parents Can Discuss Race And Color

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ipstori Creator, Ruth Resendiz, Wants People To Love Reading Again

Fierce

ipstori Creator, Ruth Resendiz, Wants People To Love Reading Again

When the pandemic hit, the Mexican book market saw print sales decline within the first half of February. By April it had plummeted 88.2 percent.

For former professor, Ruth Resendiz, the Mexican publishing crisis feels personal. The brains behind ipstori, Resendiz is on a mission to get people reading again.

“It was about 15 years ago that you started to see that [students] were not reading,” she told mitú.

In 2019 Mexico Daily News reported a noticeable decrease in reading practices following a recent survey. Results concluded that nearly half of respondents didn’t have time to read, while 21.7 percent showed no interest in reading.

Featured by Apple for Women’s History Month, Resendiz wants new readers to understand the power literature can offer. “There are a lot of writers that say literature can give you a sense of immortality,” she said.

ipstori is Resendiz’s love story to reading that started at a young age.

Courtesy of Apple

Resendiz’s fascination with literature began when she was eight after contracting the measles. Bedridden for two weeks the young girl began reading “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott.

“I knew nothing about the United States and suddenly I was immersed in another family, in another era, in another culture, and that changed my life forever,” she said.

Resendiz continued saying: “With literature, you’re allowed to be unfaithful, you’re allowed to be in a lot of people’s arms.”

Resendiz created ipstori later in life with no tech experience.

Courtesy of Apple

Becoming an entrepreneur at 52, Resendiz launched ipstori in October 2019. With no prior tech experience she was passionate about getting stories into the hands of people everywhere. Despite facing challenges as a middle-aged woman in the field, Resendiz got help from her tech savvy children turning her solo passion into a family affair.

Considered “a Spotify for literature,” the app contains fictional short stories in genres ranging from romance to thrillers. Available on the App Store, each story has a reading time of one, three, five, or seven minutes.

One of Resendiz’s main focuses with ipstori is to highlight the emotional depth of a narrative. With a generation living on smartphones, Resendiz hopes this method of engagement sparks a change of attitude.

ipstori gives readers thousands of stories to read at any time.

Courtesy of Apple

As attention spans have declined with the rise of social media, Resendiz anticipates that reading short stories would eventually allow readers to adapt to longer novels.

For me, a success story would be that someone that started with ipstori, [their] next stage is going to a library or to Kindle or buy a whole book,” she stated. “We don’t want to compete with books. We just want to give you this kind of starting ritual.”

During the pandemic, 71 percent of the Mexican population was on the internet. Thanks to the digital market, e-books and audiobooks are helping print bookstores regain sales, but not by much.

Luckily, more than 70,000 users engaged with ipstori reading ‘diversidad’ and ‘erotic’ genres that especially gained traction during the pandemic.

“When you’re surrounded by death in every sense, not just corporal death, but [the] death of a lot of things you need to control it with life,” Resendiz observes. “And what is more lively than [the] erotic?”

With over 200 authors writing for ipstori from all over Latin America, Resendiz is expanding the app’s range to include “tiny audibles” read by professional theater actors.

While the publishing crisis remains, Resendiz wants her app to “be that bridge between the creators and the possible readers.”

Reading, she says, is “the difference between being alive and just surviving.”

“We are made by stories, the stories of our parents, and the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves,” Resendiz says.

The App Store featured ipstori for Women’s History Month.

READ: Many Native Languages Are Dying Off But Here’s How Indigenous Millennials Are Using Tech To Save Them

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The New ‘In The Heights’ Trailer Is Out And You’ll Wish You Were In This Latino Fairytale

Entertainment

The New ‘In The Heights’ Trailer Is Out And You’ll Wish You Were In This Latino Fairytale

There is a new “In The Heights” trailer and release date and fans are getting excited (again)! This is the second time that Warner Bros. has released a trailer to tease the release of “In The Heights” but Covid derailed its first release. Here’s to summer of 2021!

Here’s the new trailer for “In The Heights.”

“In The Heights” is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first wildly successful musical before “Hamilton. The show is based in Washington Heights, a Latino and immigrant enclave in New York City where music runs through the streets and the residents.

Usnavi, portrayed by Anthony Ramos, is the protagonist who is central to the community. He runs a bodega that everyone visits and it isn’t long until he and his large community fight back to protect their friends and family.

The story has it all from love to despair to triumph.

Usnavi is in love with Vanessa, portrayed by Melissa Barrera, and their love story grows alongside the community through the summer. At the same time, it seems that Abuela Claudia, portrayed by Olga Merediz, is facing deportation and the community comes to her defense to keep her here.

Miranda and Jon M. Cho, the director of “Crazy Rich Asians,” beautifully captured the resilience and diversity of our neighborhoods. Actors Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, and Leslie Grace bring the play to life on the big screen in a big way.

Fans cannot wait to see the new movie offering Latinos so much representation.

People have been anxiously waiting for this moment since 2008. That was the year that Universal Pictures announced their plans to make the movie adaptation of the play. It was supposed to be released in 2011 until Universals Pictures dropped the project. Then The Weinstein Company acquired the rights, however, Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct came to light and Miranda pulled the rights in response. Warner Bros. then got the rights in 2018 and we had our first trailer in 2019. It was slated to be released in June 2020 and the Covid caused the company to cancel the movie’s release. Now, with a deal with HBOMax, Warner Bros. will finally release “In The Heights” more than 10 years after fans were promised a movie.

“In The Heights” will be on HBOMax on June 18, 2021.

READ: The Trailer For ‘In The Heights’ Is Finally Here And It Looks Like A Latino Fairytale

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