More than 150,000 books donated by the UK are now on the shelves of the newly rebuilt Samir Mansour Bookshop, with doors set to reopen on Thursday 17 February. The epic operation of co-ordinating collections, processing the books and then transporting them to Gaza City was fully managed by circular economy bookseller, AwesomeBooks.
Samir Mansour, Bookshop Founder, said: “I would like to thank all the people who stood by me and helped me get back on my feet. Today I am opening a better bookstore than before, thanks to their efforts. It was a huge shock to me when the library was destroyed, but today I feel so happy that the world stood by me and I am in a position to reopen the bookstore. It’s shown me that there’s something worth living this life for.
I was initially afraid that the books would not arrive in time, but when the first batch arrived without any problems it gave me hope that everything would be fine. It was a very nice feeling when I saw the books in front of me. Today I thank everyone for their moral and material support. I salute the United Kingdom and all people around the world.”
After airstrikes destroyed the cultural hub during an 11-day conflict in May 2021, there was an outpouring of support with many offering to help the bookseller replace lost stock. With UK businesses, charities and publishers pledging vast quantities of books, AwesomeBooks supported this unprecedented effort with an offer to organise the mammoth logistical task of the donation process.
AwesomeBooks, one of the UK’s biggest online new and used book retailers, has a unique circular business model of sustainable bookselling centred around reuse, which means that no book is ever thrown away. The company collects books destined for landfill and repurposes high quality copies by reselling them or donating them, to improve access to books and promote literacy. Any badly damaged books re-enter the circular economy as paper products which can be used to manufacture new books or packaging. By working more sustainably and supporting charities around the world, AwesomeBooks is committed to making an impact with every book.
Working with Mahvish Rukhsana, a human rights lawyer and one of the organisers of the appeal, over the past nine months AwesomeBooks has coordinated donation hubs set up across the UK – collecting books and bringing them back to their Wallingford warehouse to be sorted, catalogued and stored, before being shipped to Gaza City.
The final shipping containers have just arrived, and now more than 150,000 books – including 25,000 donated by AwesomeBooks – are safely on the shelves of the new bookshop in Gaza City, which is three times larger than the destroyed store and just 100m from the site of the bombed site, ready for its triumphant reopening on Thursday 17 February.