With the ongoing fight against racial inequality and police brutality in America, there are many ways to support that fight, from protesting to donating money to volunteering your time to local and national organizations. Beyond these much-needed actions, it’s worth examining where we’re spending our dollars. One way we can always make a difference: shopping at Black-owned bookstores and booksellers, many of which are small businesses that have been greatly impacted by the pandemic.
Even in this age of social media and the internet, books continue to be important tools to educate and entertain ourselves. There is nothing better than curling up in your favorite chair with a good book. It can be a challenge to find books by authors of color and banned books from Black authors who speak from an authentic voice. Yet, Black-owned bookstores across the United States have remained steadfast in being a safe haven for readers, helping us discover Black authors of the past and creating space for new writers. In honor of Love Your Bookshop Day, here are eight Black-owned bookstores to visit the next time you’re in their towns.
This beautiful spot in Midtown Kansas City is Black woman-owned and bravely opened during the height of the pandemic in 2021. Owner Cori Smith recognized that there were not enough spaces for Black and Brown people to call our own and to be celebrated in the stories that center our experiences. There’s also a technological aspect paired with each book. You can scan a book’s QR code to pull up a different experience paired to the book, such as playlists, interviews with authors, and book reviews. It’s a must-stop if you’re ever in KC.
Yes, I’m partial to my hometown! Bliss Books & Wine is another independently owned bookstore in Kansas City for lovers of books and wine. Co-founders and sisters La’Nesha Frazier and La’Nae Robinson are on a mission to build a community gathering place and to create experiences by bridging the gap between books and wine. Yes, please! I love their support of local authors in the community, and it’s the perfect spot to read, sip, and relax.
Malik Muhammad, owner of Malik Books in Los Angeles, has a true understanding of the power of books. It was the books that Muhammad read while a college student that not only enabled him to become totally in tune with himself but also helped him realize how he can impact his community and the world. Since 1989, Malik Books has given an outlet to Black authors all over the world. Established authors and new authors alike can all be found in Malik Books.
The Grand Opening of Octavia’s Bookshelf in February was magical. Pasadena’s first Black-owned bookstore is centered in the heart of the same community where Octavia E. Butler, the store’s namesake, lived and found inspiration for her novels. Now, owner Nikki High is spreading that inspiration back to authors of color.
The Lit. Bar opened its doors on April 27, 2019 (National Indie Bookstore Day) and is currently the only brick-and-mortar bookstore serving the Bronx. Owner Noëlle Santos says that books were her tools to economic mobility and a form of entertainment growing up. The Lit. Bar welcomes literary and community gatherings, while the wine bar sets the mood for some good reading. Santos always has a carefully curated selection of books, gift items, and programming that highlights local interest and diversity.
Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books is a coffee shop and bookstore located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Founded by Marc Lamont Hill in 2017, Uncle Bobbie’s was created to provide underserved communities with access to books and a space where everyone feels valued and welcomed. In addition to its curated book selections, Uncle Bobbie’s serves high-quality coffee, food products, and more. It’s a community space that holds free author talks, workshops, and other events.
Unapologetically Black-owned and family-run and -operated, Mahogany Books is a local independent bookstore that believes in social entrepreneurship. The owners have taken a leadership role in the Black community by promoting reading, writing, and cultural awareness as tools to improve self-esteem and self-love and to enrich people’s lives.
Sisters Donna and Donya Craddock opened The Dock in 2008, at a time when even though independent bookstores were closing, the sisters saw opportunity. The Dock Bookshop is one of the largest Black-owned full-service bookstores in Texas — and in the Southwest, for that matter. Its mission is to inspire, inform, and entertain customers through books and book-related events, all in a relaxing and spacious environment. The Dock also sells audiobooks, eBooks, gifts, music, and personal and home care items. In addition, The Dock is 4,000 square feet in size, with plenty of space for book signings and other events.
Love Your Bookshop Day is celebrated every year on August 14. It is a holiday that was founded by the Australian Booksellers Association to appreciate bookstores across Australia and highlight all the things that make them valuable. The day encourages both an appreciation for books and reading by more people.
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Archuleta is an author, poet, blogger, and host of the FearlessINK podcast. Archuleta's work centers Black women, mental health and wellness, and inspiring people to live their fullest potential.