Jeannine A. Cook is the owner of Harriett’s Bookshop, an independent bookstore located in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. Established in February 2020, the bookstore, named for freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, is on a mission to "celebrate women authors, artists, and activists under the guiding light of [Tubman]."
Last December, the shop decided to add an extra special treat to its wheelhouse, delivering books on horseback. Cook says the idea started in partnership with the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, a North Philly organization known for promoting horseback riding for inner city youth. It was important to Cook that she merge the legacy of Harriet with the Philadelphia institution to keep the spirit of Harriet alive.
“December 2020 I took my first ride on [horseback] in partnership with the Fletcher Street Riding Club. From there we’ve periodically found ways to bring together the world of horses and books. It is believed that Harriett Tubman stole a horse to deliver her elderly parents to freedom. There is a rich riding tradition among our ancestors and many indigenous cultures. That tradition continues with us,” Cook told Because Of Them We Can.
Delivering books on horseback. Amazon ain’t got nothing on us. 😎😎😎 pic.twitter.com/AU2RfC01u7— Harriett’s Bookshop (@harriettsbooks) November 27, 2021
While the horseback delivery services aren’t offered daily, Cook is committed to doing it just enough to keep the magic going and says that most residents are blown away when they see her in the streets.
“The reaction is always awe. It’s important to keep the awe and excitement in storytelling” she said.
Cook's appreciation for books runs deep. In a recent Facebook post on the shop's page, she shared one of the ways books shaped her life.
"When our mother lost her vision she was in school getting a masters degree. She required that we (her 3 adolescent daughters) continue reading to her & typing her papers for her so she could finish & she did."
Cook’s goal is to continue to be intentional about the mission of Harriett’s, offering a decidedly free space where authors and their cherished works are celebrated and honored, even during the holiday sale season where most entrepreneurs are interested in making money. For example, she recently offered a buy two, get one free sale, under the condition that buyers pledge to give the free book to someone in need. The same rules applied for the 50 free children’s books she gave away to kids.
“Yes, we want to offer massive deals on one weekend a year and make enough to see us through the darkness of winter...but we refuse to do that at the risk of our own sanity or ethic or standard or that of our team...We want whatever coinage you spend with us to be because you live the mission, you see the work, and want to watch it healthily unfold in its perfect order. We hope you’ll buy books today and ANY day because you bear witness to the fruit that we bear,” she wrote.
To learn more about Harriett’s bookshop, visit their website here.
Thank you for your work Jeannine! Because of you, we can!
This article was originally posted on BOTWC