How to Win a Bookstore

This information also appears in the March/April 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest. Subscribe today to get insights and information like this all year long.


BOOKSTORE PAINTING © BOB ECKSTEIN

Want to win a bookstore of your very own? All you have to do is explain, in 250 words or fewer, why a bookstore is important to the community.

By Bob Eckstein

It’s a bibliophile’s dream. A chance to win a whole bookshop. It really is the closest thing to Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket there is. This open contest is run by From My Shelf Books & Gifts in charming Wellsboro, Pa., a store that is 1,000 square feet and includes about 50,000 books. The winner will receive six months free rent, an in-place staff and free consultanting from the owners. No business experience is needed. There’s no money down, except a $75 entry fee. (You get your $75 back if you win, or if less than 4,000 people enter, in which case there is no winner.) You can sell the store after one year.

So, what do you have to do to win a bookstore? Just write a short essay, in 250 words or fewer, stating why bookstores are important to the community, and if your piece is selected, From My Shelf Books & Gifts is yours.

The contest deadline is March 18, 2018.
Click here to learn more about how to enter on the bookstore’s website. 

As it happens, while writing my last book—Footnotes From the World’s Greatest Bookstores—I spent a lot of time hearing bookstore owners from all over the country tell me about the important role their shops serve in the community. Therefore, I know the answer to this essay question and am going to share it with you below. To assist, I went ahead and made a 250-word winning entry template for you. All you have to do is fill in the blanks. Aw, shucks—no, thank you!

Bob Eckstein’s Fill-in-the-Blank Entry Form

Nobody knows better than I the importance of a bookstore, or a _________, to a community. This became clear to me after I had my __________ removed. If it weren’t for the love, support and _________ of my family, friends, local bookstore and _________, God knows what I would still be doing. Luckily, I found like-minded people at my own local bookshop in the ___________ section. I joined a ___________ writing group, did ____ hours of open mics and wrote a controversial bestseller, “How To Talk People Into __________.” Until then I was just some loser, ranting on the corner of ____________ and ___________ with a useless degree in __________. It was because of that __________ bookstore that I met my future _________ , who taught me the difference between right and _________. If I were to own a bookstore, I’d make it my mission to ensure that every single person who walked in through those doors would ___________ and wouldn’t leave until they found his or her ___________. What a lot of people don’t realize is, when you ____________, you ____________ to water. Thank you for your consideration, and I ask that the judges keep in mind that I’m a ____________.

Note: In case it wasn’t obvious, the WD team would advise that you compose your own custom 250-word essay. 😉 


Bob Eckstein is a writer and cartoonist for The New Yorker and The New York Times, and has also written for New York Daily News, Atlas Obscura, Reader’s Digest, GQ, MAD and others. His latest book, Footnotes From the World’s Greatest Bookstores, is a New York Times bestseller and was selected by The Wall Street Journal as one of the Most-Anticipated Books of Fall 2016. He currently pens the cartoon column “Worth a Thousand Words” for Writer’s Digest.


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