On a bitterly cold Sunday afternoon, Noëlle Santos is selling books at a holiday pop-up market hosted by the Bronx Museum of Art. They’re going fast; Santos tells me she brought in $1,000 on the previous day. A crowd gathers at her booth, many eating spicy mac-and-cheese or sipping cinnamon-laced coquito from neighboring stalls. Rolling carts are stocked with $5 paperbacks, and some titles are mysteriously shrouded in brown paper. Santos has covered them in clues, hints about the genre or plot, but the buyer’s not quite sure what’s inside.
It’s an attempt to drum up enthusiasm for her soon-to-be bookstore, The Lit Bar, which is poised to be the only one of its kind in the Bronx.