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In search of mission-driven shops

Downtown, there's a quirky but serious book store called The InfoShop, a business operated by the World Bank that sells books that are unabashedly wonky and earnest.

Inside the store, next to signs that say "Bestsellers," visitors will find works with titles such as: "World Bank Report 2008: Agriculture for Development"; "Doing Business 2010: Reforming through Difficult Times, Comparing Regulation in 183 Economies"; "The World Bank Unveiled: Inside the Revolutionary Struggle for Transparency"; "Conditional Cash Transfers"; and "The Promise of Early Childhood Development in Latin American and the Caribbean," which happens to have a blurb on its back cover by the artist and activist known as Shakira. ("This book should be mandatory reading for all leaders and policy makers in the world," she is quoted as saying.)

I found the InfoShop fascinating, especially given the well-known fight-to-survive among all book stores, but especially those that take a more specialized approach--that is, beyond selling hundreds of James Patterson novels. So, I am looking for similar book stores, and even more broadly, other mission-oriented shops that sell very niche-oriented products for the sake of promoting a mission, without much regard for making a profit.

(The World Bank's shop isn't exactly raking in the profits: Many of the InfoShop's books are published by the World Bank Group's non-profit publishing arm, which recovers about two-thirds of its operational costs, according to publisher Carlos Rossel.)

Do you know of other agencies or non-profits that have their own storefronts devoted to selling products keyed to a particular idea or ideology? Please send any tips or idea to me at shapirai@washpost.com

By Ian Shapira  | February 2, 2010; 10:18 AM ET
Categories:  Build-A-Story  | Tags:  Carlos Rossel; InfoShop; World Bank and InfoShop  
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