La Casa Azul Bookstore's Aurora Anaya-Cerda

Why you shouldn't give your money to the gringos behind B&N or Amazon

By Marcela Landres
Published on LatinoLA: November 3, 2009

La Casa Azul Bookstore's Aurora Anaya-Cerda

Most of us aren't lucky enough to have a brick and mortar Latino bookstore
in our neighborhoods. Thanks to Aurora Anaya-Cerda, now you have the
online equivalent: La Casa Azul, http://www.lacasaazulbookstore.com/.
Whether you are already published or aspire to be, it is critical to your
writing career to shop at Latino booksellers because they are more likely to
support Latino authors in the long term than non-Latino bookstores. The
next time you buy a book (or CD or DVD), ask yourself: Do I want to give my
money to the gringos behind Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com, or to the
Latina behind La Casa Azul? To learn more, read this month's Q&A with Aurora.

Aurora Anaya-Cerda is the owner of an online bookstore, La Casa Azul
Bookstore, which she founded in 2008. She had been featured in American
Latino TV, the New York Daily News, and La Bloga. A member of the Young
Hispanic Leaders Program, she is the recipient of the Juanita Centeno
Leadership Award, the UCLA Women for Change Leadership Award, and a
scholarship from the New Start Fund that is awarded to women entrepreneurs
in New York City. For more information, visit

Q: What inspired you to open La Casa Azul bookstore?

A: The idea of opening a bookstore came while I was in college. I
contemplated the idea, but did other things before making the decision to
open La Casa Azul Bookstore. It wasn't until I moved to East Harlem from East
Los Angeles that I decided to make the dream a reality. I enrolled in a business
course and immersed myself in the book industry world; soon I was so
motivated and determined to open the bookstore that there was no going back.

I chose East Harlem because I loved everything about it, its culture, art,
music and energy overall. There are not enough venues in the community
that promote Latino literature. As an online store, I connect writers and
readers on a virtual level with the e-newsletter. But when La Casa Azul
Bookstore opens as a storefront it will complement other businesses that
already exist in East Harlem, adding a Chicana twist to the color, flavor, and
culture of the neighborhood.

Q: As one of the few Latina bookstore owners in the U.S., you have a unique
perspective on the book business. What are your impressions of the current
publishing landscape in general, and on Latino publishing in particular?

A: The more I learn about the book industry, the more committed I am to
opening La Casa Azul Bookstore as a brick and mortar. I would like to see
publishing companies promote and feature more Latino writers, but until that
happens I am going to continue featuring them at my book clubs, readings,
and online. I use my platform as a bookseller and promoter of Latino writers
to educate people, let them know the importance of supporting both
established and new writers. I am also a strong advocate for communities to
support their local businesses, and I speak about that often because
independent bookstores are vital in all neighborhoods. They are the cultural
hub and the place where book lovers of all ages can come together.

Q: How can authors partner with bookstores to help sell their own books?

A: My advice is to contact local/independent bookstores. If you are
self-published, you have to do some legwork, if you have a publicist make
sure he/she books readings at local bookstores too! If you have a book tour,
consider adding independent bookstores to the roster. Booklovers love
meeting writers, and in the intimate setting of an indie bookstore, both the
authors and the audience have a better experience. It's also a great way to
keep indies alive!

Q: For those people who dream of opening their own bookstore one day,
what advice would you offer?

A: You have to love what you do! No matter what your passion is, you have
to know that along with the fun and rewards also comes responsibility,
commitment, and long hours. You also have to do your homework, know as
much about the industry as possible in order to determine if this is right for

Q: Other than buying books, music CDs, and movie DVDs from the online
store, how can we support La Casa Azul?

A: Yes, buying book, CDs and DVDs online is a great way to support La
Casa Azul Bookstore but you can also:
* Be a part of the Founding Familia as a bookstore investor
* Purchase books for your school library or classroom from La Casa
Azul Bookstore
* Host a book reading at your school, organization, or club
* Invite La Casa Azul Bookstore to your school book fair or
parent/teacher night
* Attend the Barrio Book Club held on the second Tuesday of the
month at El Museo del Barrio
* Sign up for the store e-newsletter
* Tell everyone you know about La Casa Azul Bookstore!

Q: If authors, publicists, or publishing companies are interested in having
an event hosted by La Casa Azul, how should they contact you?

A: Aurora Anaya-Cerda
La Casa Azul Bookstore
Website: http://www.lacasaazulbookstore.com/
E-mail: lacasaazulbookstore@gmail.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lacasaazulbookstore
Phone: 646-413-5251

About Marcela Landres:
Marcela Landres is the author of the e-book How Editors Think. She is an Editorial Consultant who specializes in helping Latinos get published and was formerly an editor at Simon & Schuster.
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