At just 300 square feet, The Tiny Bookstore isn’t exaggerating when they say that they are indeed tiny. However, while Pittsburgh’s smallest independent bookstore may be small, it has a mighty impact. Owners Lea and Bill Bickerton haven’t let the size constraints of their store stop them from bringing book lovers of all ages into their space to find community and share their love of reading.
Though currently closed for in-person shopping, The Tiny Bookstore offers a wide selection of books from bestsellers to bargains as well as collectible items, toys, and gifts available through their website for curbside pickup or shipped to your home. While you may not find a specific book you’re looking for like you would at a larger bookseller or online, what you will find is a wide variety of interesting and impressive selections that you may never have come across otherwise — and speaking from experience, you often find the best books this way.
Of course, this store’s impact goes beyond the books on its shelves. As a Black-owned business, The Tiny Bookstore is stocked with books that feature diverse voices and stories as well as resources for individuals, families, and community groups that want to learn something new or engage with different ideas.
“The Tiny Bookstore is race-neutral, but we know that the world is not,” reads their website. “Race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disabilities, and sexual orientation have an effect on how people are treated. Until the world reaches a place that this is no longer true, we will continue to speak out against inequality [and] we welcome customers from all backgrounds and walks of life.”
In addition to serving their customers and advocating for equality, Lea and Bill Bickerton have both followed their passions in bringing The Tiny Bookstore to life. Avid book lover Lea curates many of the shop’s book selections herself, and as its resident homebrewer, Bill oversees the Homebrewer’s Specials, which connects local homebrewers with supplies, books, and a helpful community.
(Pro tip: their “Books and Brews” series that paired featured books with craft beers was a big hit before the COVID—19 pandemic, so keep your fingers crossed for a return date in the future.)
The Tiny Bookstore’s commitment to serving its community of readers extends to authors as well. The motto of the store’s Authors Select program is: “If you can get your book to Pittsburgh, we’ll put it on our shelves.” Authors are welcome to submit a copy of their book for display in the store, and if the book is sold, The Tiny Bookstore splits the proceeds 50/50 with the author. Not only does this give new authors with smaller readership and distribution opportunities a chance to get their book into a reader’s hands, but it helps the shop maintain a wide variety of authors for their customers.
Of course, as The Tiny Bookstore says on their website, “Reading is fundamental, but it can also be fun.” Between creating space for advocacy and supporting up-and-coming authors, the Bickersons also have put together a 2021 Summer Reading Challenge to encourage everyone — kids, teenagers, and even adults — to read books from a broad range of authors this summer.
Think you have what it takes to tackle the ten categories included in The Tiny Bookstore’s summer reading challenge? Visit The Tiny Bookstore’s website to shop online for your next read and pick up your selections curbside at its Ross Township location — it’s as simple as that. You can also find more information about getting involved with the store’s Justice Community on the website and take steps to get involved.