Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Home Truck Store Cold feet leads Amberley woman to cool truck: How the Book Bus...

Cold feet leads Amberley woman to cool truck: How the Book Bus was born


Melanie Moore turned a 1962 VW Transporter into a mobile book store and uses the profits to purchase children’s books for classrooms.

Cincinnati Enquirer

The night before she was set to sign a lease on a brick-and-mortar store, Melanie Moore got seriously cold feet. 

What if my bookstore fails? Will I struggle to afford the overhead? Do I really want to risk so much so close to retirement? 

She looked in her driveway and found the answer. 

“It just clicked,” Moore said. “I asked my husband if I could steal his truck.” 

Tony Moore was on board with the Book Bus.

Melanie Moore, a retired teacher, photographed in front of her husband’s restored 1962 Volkswagen Transporter that she has turned into a mobile book store deemed “The Book Bus.” Moore takes the profits from the book sales to purchase children’s books for classrooms and organizations to help build their libraries. (Photo: Amanda Rossmann, The Enquirer/Amanda Rossmann)

Three years later – or two and a half years plus one time-warping pandemic – Melanie Moore couldn’t be happier that her storefront is a refurbished 1962 Volkswagen Transporter. 

The truck is the type of vintage find that the Moores covet. It predates them a bit – Melanie is 50; Tony, 51 – but matches their aesthetic. The truck fits right in parked in the long, winding driveway that leads to their Amberley Village home. Their land is dotted with retro-cool objects – including 1940s parking meters, an old Sinclair gas-and-air pump, and a 1946 GMC half-ton truck named Josie. 

For 25 years, Melanie Moore had taught students in inner cities. When she retired from that job, she set her sights on pursuing her lifelong dream of owning a bookstore, though she wasn’t quite done with the whole teaching-kids business. One hundred percent of her mobile shop’s profits go toward buying kids book or supporting charities that focus on children’s literacy. 

The VW has sides that lower and a canvas roll-up top that allow Moore to display the books she sells – mostly adult fiction, foreign titles and limited covers. The truck had been covered in rust when Tony Moore bought it from a cherry farm in Colorado. 

“It had always been a working truck, doing her job,” said Melanie Moore, who affectionately calls the ride “The Old Gal.”

Driving The Old Gal is a job in and of itself. Moore had to re-learn how to drive a stick and, because the mirrors aren’t quite aligned properly, can’t have any distractions while she’s behind the wheel. She also had to learn a few of the 58-year-old vehicle’s quirks. 

“She’s a little rough to start,” Moore said. “She’s not a morning person.” 

Tony Moore had worked to get the truck in good mechanical shape before his wife decided to steal it, but the outside was rough. Years of cherry hauling had left tiny holes in the truck bed, where the acidic juices ate through the metal. 

You’d never know it now. It’s a sleek, nearly blemish-free seafoam green with a tan canvas top. One friend designed an era-appropriate logo for the business and another carved wooden milk crates in which Melanie Moore stores her wares. (“It helps to have creative friends when you’re starting a venture,” she said.) 

The truck holds about 150 titles, which Moore hand selects. Recently, her selection included gilded-paged classics such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Jane Austen’s Emma, as well as more contemporary titles like White Fragility.

A lot of businesses are struggling in this age of COVID, making Moore’s cold feet about a proper storefront seem serendipitous. Her business hasn’t suffered. In fact, this summer she’s been able to buy $8,000 worth of books for the Cincinnati Recreation Commission’s 23 locations. 

She has plans to donate books to teachers, too, who are facing an especially challenging year thanks to the coronavirus. 

“I feel very grateful,” Moore said. “When I started this venture, I had no idea how much joy it would bring.”   

The Book Bus is not accepting book donations because of the coronavirus. Cash donations can be made at

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