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Open Books on Northwest Side provides books, literacy programs across Chicago

Open Books in Logan Square provides books, literacy programs citywide
Open Books in Logan Square provides books, literacy programs citywide 02:26

CHICAGO (CBS)-- If you're looking to unload some books, Chicago's only non-profit bookstore has a new location in Logan Square that's gladly accepting donations. Every purchase helps put books in the hands of the city's young readers.

The stream's Jamaica Ponder has more from Open Books.

"I've read this…"

It's difficult for Eric Johnson to know whether some of these books once belonged to him because at Open Books, almost everything on the shelves used to belong to somebody.

"So everything that you see here are books that have been donated largely by the public and that we sell in order to support all of our work." 

Johnson is the executive director of Open Books, a literacy non-profit giving free books and running literacy programs citywide. 

"We have focused very heavily over the past many years and building up our infrastructure to get free books to kids and families that lack access to them," he said. 

A large number of those books come from right here…

"We're probably best known to the public for our stores."

It's in-store that folks can donate their used books, then turn around and shop for nearly new ones.

"One by one, our book operations team sorts every single book that comes through our doors and decides the right place that those should be," Johnson said. 

That might be right back on the shelf or into their inventory of free books for kids and families.

"We bring in about a million and a quarter donated books every year, not just here in Logan Square, but also in the West Loop in Pilsen. We have tens of thousands of titles on ourselves."

Every dollar goes to support all of our literacy programs in and out of school. By keeping prices low as little as $4 and standards high.

"You might find something that you would see in the New York Times book review, for example."

They've got the neighborhood's attention.

"We did about $100,000 of business in just the first month alone, which is just incredible."

They've only been open since January, but in their first year, they are slated to bring in up to half a million dollars in revenue and that turns into…

"Definitely put out a couple of hundred thousand into the world for kids and families that lack access," Johnson said. 

Open Books accepts both literary and monetary donations at all of their locations seven days a week. If the books you drop off don't make their way into the hands of a child, you might find them while shopping on their shelves.

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