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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Semicolon Bookstore Launches Used Book Pop-Up At Former River West Location

Proceeds from Parenthesis, Semicolon's "sister" store, will support book donations and other literacy programs for Chicago Public Schools students.

Semicolon Bookstore's former location at 515 N. Halsted Street on Aug 31, 2021. The storefront will now be home to Parenthesis, a used book shop that will raise money for literacy efforts.
Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
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RIVER WEST — Semicolon Bookstore and Gallery is opening a second store focused exclusively on affordable used books.

Parenthesis, which shares a name with Semicolon’s literacy nonprofit, will open Nov. 26 at Semicolon’s original location, 515 N. Halsted St. The store will operate until at least Dec. 24, and possibly into 2022.

Semicolon moved to a larger location in Wicker Park in October, having outgrown the storefront on Halsted Street. Since opening in 2019, the bookstore has showcased authors of color and work by local artists. 

“As we get nearer to the holiday season, we recognize that people are coming in who want to get more books than they’re able to get, because of the cost of books,” owner Danielle Mullen said. “We wanted to not only make use of the nonprofit in a bigger and more effective way, but also just give a little more access, as much access as we can possibly have.”

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
Semicolon Bookstore owner Danielle Mullen outside the store’s former storefront in River West on Aug. 31, 2021

All books sold at Parenthesis will be $10 or less. Proceeds will fund Semicolon’s larger literacy and book donation efforts for Chicago Public Schools students.

Eventually, there will be a free library at the space, available to any CPS student, Mullen said.

“We want to curate different types of books that [students] should likely read to get themselves to the next level,” she said. “We’re going to create a library card system. We will have a cataloguing system. And they will be able to go into the space at any point and take out as many books as they want to. And hopefully come back and talk to us about them.”

Parenthesis will accept donations and obtain books from a variety of sources, said Semicolon employee Juj Lepe, who will oversee the new store.

“The space is going to function like a second Semicolon,” Lepe said. “If there are people who love the feel of a used bookstore, we are going to provide that with the same enthusiasm and focus on art and community that we have here.”

Parenthesis will be open noon-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday at 515 N. Halsted St.

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