Annie-Rose Collins was looking for a book series she really wanted to read during lockdown.
The Green Bay teen expressed her frustration to her group of friends, who said they'd too often found the price of new books prohibitive and, with libraries closed, they were short of options in lockdown.
After scrolling through Trade Me and Facebook Marketplace to no avail, the 15-year-old had an idea. If there is no site online where people can find affordable pre-loved books, she could just start one.
"I said to my friends over messages 'hey guys, we should make a business where we sell pre-loved books' and then went on to explain why I had thought of it," Annie-Rose recalls.
"We all agreed that it was always difficult to find books at a reasonable price, we also started thinking about the impact purchasing books has on the environment."
They have been busy sorting through books donated by the local community. Photo / Supplied
And so Pīwakawaka Pre-loved Books was born, combining their passions for reading and sustainability.
The business is the brainchild of Annie-Rose Collins, Hannah Lees, Olivia Tukia, and Natalia Hinvest, a group of 15-year-old friends from West Auckland.
The Auckland-based online store ships pre-loved books all over the country so that, no matter what stage of lockdown Aotearoa is in, everyone can get something to read. The books are all priced at $10 and under.
The four teens, who have been close friends since Year 9, set up the website and have been busy sourcing pre-loved books to resell and loading them onto the online store, then packaging them to send all across New Zealand.
One of the biggest motives behind the bookstore is the environmental impact of books - particularly when purchased online from overseas stores.
"After purchasing and reading a book, there isn't really much you can do with it apart from read it again. Reusing books is extremely important, a study by the Green Pass Initiative shockingly found that the US book industry emits 8.85 pounds of carbon dioxide per book. That's why we thought that using second-hand donations will not only help to grow the community but leave less of a carbon footprint," Collins said.
Most of the books they have sourced so far have been donated by members of the local community.
"People moving, sorting out unused shelves, and making room for more books have kindly offered to hand over unwanted books to be loved by someone else. As the saying seems to be 'one man's trash is another man's treasure'," Collins said.
The teens have been overwhelmed by the initial response to their entrepreneurial venture and hope it makes more people consider pre-loved books when shopping online.
One of their videos on TikTok, explaining how the pre-loved bookstore works, had more than 40,000 views, with TikTok users praising their "awesome" idea.
"It's been absolutely amazing! At the beginning, before we had even finished our final logo and we're bouncing back and forth with names we allocated a person to each social media. Through using Instagram, Facebook, and especially TikTok we have reached people all over New Zealand.
"I think the first time it hit me that we were actually going to be doing it was when one of our TikTok videos got over 40,000 views. Thinking about how many people commented saying how excited they were for our store and how much they needed it helped me and I'm sure the others to be more motivated to continue with this idea and make it a reality."