Bookmarks, a 12-year-old nonprofit literary arts organization, is planning to open an independent bookstore in the North Carolina city within the next six months. The organization isn’t deterred by negative reaction to North Carolina’s recently passed HB2, bathroom law, or the estimated $400,000 that it will need to raise to open an independent bookstore in downtown Winston-Salem.

“An independent bookstore will provide a cultural gathering place and fill a major gap in Winston-Salem’s literary scene,” bestselling novelist Charlie Lovett, president of Bookmarks’s board of directors said.

A bookstore will also enable the organization to draw more authors to Winston-Salem and the Triad area, executive director Ginger Hendricks added. And it would provide a larger home for the group’s book-related activities and programs, including its upcoming 12th annual book festival. Last year’s festival was headlined by David Baldacci and drew attendees from 15 states. The group's Authors in Schools programming draws more than 5,500 students.

A brick-and-mortar bookstore has been part of Bookmarks’s strategic plan since 2011. Three years ago it began selling books to support its mission under the supervision of Jamie Rogers Southern, former education coordinator for the American Booksellers Association.

The fundraising process for the bookstore has already begun. Large donors are encouraged to give $1,000 and up for a wall of recognition, $300,000 to name the main reading room.