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Vancouver bookseller collecting books, raising money to open shop in West Africa

Dawdah Bah not only sells books online, he also collects them to ship back home to open an affordable bookstore in his hometown.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Dawdah Bah's passion for books can be seen all over his Vancouver, Washington apartment. Hundreds of them are boxed up in the corner of his kitchen and all around the space. 

Bah moved to Vancouver in 2002 from London. He made a living in the tech world but the pandemic pushed him towards a new passion project.

"Because of isolation, stress, extra financial responsibilities, I decided to sell books," explained Bah. 

He sells used books online on Amazon and Ebay under the store name "Bookseller of Bakau," named after the small town he was borned and raised in the country of Gambia in West Africa.

His passion for books took root when he was a child. 

"I would read anything from newspapers, magazines, but it wasn't easy to have access to books, affordable books especially," he said. 

Credit: Dawda Bah
Dawda Bah's hometown in Gambia, Bakau

"Growing up in Gambia, it was it was hard to get books and it's still the same. There's one major bookstore over there that sells books for about $30 -$40 which is the average for what some people make a month."

His mission now goes beyond making a living. He buys books from local residents and sells some online, while putting others in storage. 

"This is a business, but it's a business of passion, I want to give back to my country and to my people," said Bah. "The plan is to open a brick and mortar store back home in the next few months." 

So far, he's collected over 2,000 books to take back to Bakau. His store will carry books of all genres priced from $5 to $10.

He already has a name picked out —"Noor" Bookstore. "Noor" in Arabic means "Light'. He chose the name because he said books enlighten people.

"I feel like next to traveling, it's probably one of the best things you can do for yourself to open your eyes," he said. "You can read a book today and transport yourself to somewhere else." 

He's currently saving money for the store and collecting books. Contact information for his book shop can be found here. He wants to collect about 5,000 books before shipping them back to Gambia. 

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