New business

Selling and buying used books made accessible

The Green Library allows users to sell and buy pre-loved books and have them delivered at home.  Photo: Shutterstock

The Green Library allows users to sell and buy pre-loved books and have them delivered at home.  Photo: Shutterstock

Complaining about the lack of second-hand stores is somewhat of an evergreen for eco-conscious Luxembourg book lovers. The Green Library, an online commission-based store, aims to change that.

The website, founded and single-handedly ran by Irina Roman, launched on 13 December and has already--thanks to previous media coverage--put together quite the selection of pre-loved works. “Within our first month, over 100 people contacted us to sell books,” Roman explains.

The principle is straightforward. People contact Roman and drop off their books. Roman then evaluates their worth--by checking the original price, condition and edition of the book--and puts them up online. Customers can then visit the tastefully designed and easy-to-use website, and browse for titles they want delivered at home or in the zero-waste shop Ouni.

Sharing the wealth

There are other second-hand book shops in Luxembourg, like the Bicherfrënn or Bouquins Malins, but these are donation-based. Roman noticed this and grabbed the opportunity: “There’s so much potential in Luxembourg,” she says, “because there are so many gaps in different markets.”

To cover the literary niche in the circular economy, Roman thus came up with an idea. In the Green Library, works are on a four-month contract, meaning they can be taken back after four months if unsold. If they’re sold, the “citizens have a chance to earn money.”

The fact that books can be sent to someones home--by Roman herself--is another factor. “I wanted to make something that was accessible to anyone around the entire country,” she tells Delano in an interview.

Help wanted

Running a business while working can be an organisational challenge, as Roman, who is finishing a marketing master’s degree, explains. “At the start, it was definitely utopian for me, as I sat and catalogued books.” But with the media coverage came the requests, which now amount to 5-7 book drops a week--with each bringing up to 50 books.

Working part-time and finishing her studies, Roman is “trying to look where to take this,” as she puts it: “In a couple of months, when I’ll be looking to work full-time, I’ll have to see how to make this (transition) as seamless as possible.”

As the co-founder of a U.K. start-up during her university days, Roman knows the challenges that lie ahead: “There’s not an easy way for me to find funding, so all the money I’ve put into it has been my own.” She remains undeterred though and is “looking for partnerships or investments, or just (someone) helping out,” mentioning that she’d love to have a shelf in a partnered shop.

For now, Roman works from home and in collaboration with Ouni, whose helpers she met serendipitously at a market.