The Northern Quota

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Catalog founder Peter Tzouanos

A bookshop on wheels is on its way to Oxford Road – and you can help to make it happen

  • Catalog hopes to run an independent bookstore out of a transformed Christiania Bike
  • It will be located on Higher Chatham Street, within the All Saint Campus of Manchester Metropolitan University
  • A Crowdfunder page has been set up to help fund this idea and has already raised hundreds of pounds

A book lover is planning to run a mobile bookstore out of a bicycle on Oxford Road.

Catalog founder Peter Tzouanos promises to make the venture an “oasis for the lovers of the printed page”.

The Athens-born entrepreneur came up with the idea for this project last year, wanting to combine his love of literature and knowledge of Europe’s indie scene to create a quirky place for those with similar interests to himself.

Peter, 33, said: “In a world where we're constantly stuck to screens, it's refreshing and comforting to step outside into a quirky mobile bookshop, to browse through its titles, pick up a piece, sample it and scamper off with a new discovery in hand. 

“I am hoping that Catalog will have the power to create a sense of community and that it will become a hive of activity for those who are passionate about independent print, arts, culture, and design.”

As well as a selection of independent books, Catalog plans on carrying between 20 to 30 periodicals as well as stocking locally handmade crafts. Some of the available titles will include The Skirt Chronicles, The Gourmand, Hello Mr. and Weapons of Reason.

“Ideally, I’d like to have a diverse selection. I’d like to have a bit of art, a bit of photography, a bit of architecture but I also like to touch communities like the LGBTQ and BAME communities, I’d like to offer that diverse inventory to people. That’s really important to me. I want it to be an inclusive place for everybody,” Peter said.

The idea to run the business out of a Christiania Bike came about after a trip to Copenhagen just before lockdown in March. While there, Peter noticed that a lot of bikes were being used and thought it would be an interesting addition to the project.

He had originally planned to rent a space in Hatch to sell his wares, but when COVID-19 hit, he grew concerned that this would be too big a financial risk. He believes that operating out of the bicycle is more cost-effective as well as it being a unique selling point for the business.

“I kind of like the quirkiness behind it. If you think about it, my only running cost would be stocking up my inventory every month or whenever I need to. But other than that, the cost of the bike and the design is just a one-off cost and the licensing fee from Manchester City Council is every 12 months,” Peter said.

A Crowdfunder page has been set up to help make the mobile bookstore a reality. So far, £800 of the £5,500 target has been raised.

He said: “I know I won’t achieve that target, but it won’t stop me from doing it. I will do it regardless of whether I hit the target or not. We’re living in unprecedented times and I’m not expecting everybody to be able to give money.

“At the moment, the money that I have raised will go towards the designing and manufacturing process.”

 Book blogger Ciara Rosney

Mancunian book blogger Ciara Rosney, 22 (of @whatciarareads) thinks the project will be a welcome addition to Oxford Road, as it stands to attract the interest of both students and book enthusiasts alike.

Ciara said: “I think it’s so interesting, I can’t think of anything like that in Manchester, especially with a focus on independent books and magazines.

“It’s just so different than going to Waterstones and buying the books that everyone is buying. I think even if people don’t know what it is, walking past they’d want to go over and have a look. I’d definitely go see it.”

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