Only 54 Black Owned Bookstores Remain in America

This is a follow up to an article, Death of the Black Owned, Independent, Bookstore, originally published here on March 25, 2012.   The article highlighted the fact the we had lost 66% of our Black owned bookstores, in the United States, over the previous decade. That was and remains an astonishing statistic.

Two years later almost half of the stores still open in 2012 have closed.  You read that correctly, ALMOST HALF!  At the end of this article I’ve included a list of all the Black owned stores that remain open.  Here is a list of the stores that we have lost since 2002.

Harlem, NY's Hue-man Bookstore closed July 2012

Harlem, NY’s Hue-man Bookstore closed July 2012

Our bookstores have closed for every reason under the sun.  Many were started by people with a passion for literature but weak business skills and other have fallen prey to escalating rents and a dismal economy.

Perhaps a more pernicious reason, contributing to the closure of bookstores, is simply less demand for the product.   There is mounting evidence that we, all Americans, are simply reading less.

The National Endowment for the Arts issued a report in 2004, Reading at Risk,
in which they warned us that, “…literary reading in America is not only declining among all groups, but the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young.”

It is not just bookstores that are suffering.  Websites that focus on Black books are suffering as well.  Attendance at book fairs, conferences and festivals are down as well. Some have even been cancelled due to low registration.

While literary reading is declining in America, our own platforms are doing very little to indicate that books or the stories and information they contain are worthy of attention, or are important.  Coverage of Black books in magazines and newspaper—even those intended for Black readers is miniscule and critical book reviews are virtually nonexistent.

Now books are clearly not the only way to relate stories or transfer information, but nothing available now, or on the horizon, appears capable of filling the void.

The following is a complete list of the remaining Black owned independent bookstores in the United States.  Please visit Huria.org for more information about these bookstores and many others that serve communities of color.

If you believe in the importance of bookstores, which are dedicated to books by or about people of African descent, go out of your way to support one of the stores below.  I don’t want to see an America where the ONLY place Black books can be purchased is from Amazon.

If visiting an supporting a Black owned bookstore is physically impracticable here are a list of websites you can support, including this one, AALBC.com: http://huria.org/booksites

The Last Black Owned Bookstores Open in the U.S.

Pyramid Art Books & Custom Framing – Little Rock, AR

Smiley’s Bookstore – Carson, CA
Zahra’s Books and Things – Inglewood, CA
Shades of Afrika Bookstore – Long Beach, CA
Eso Won Bookstore – Los Angeles, CA
Marcus Books – Oakland, CA
Underground Books – Sacramento, CA
Marcus Books – San Francisco, CA

DC Bookdiva’s Mobile Bookstore – Washington, DC
Sankofa Video and Bookstore – Washington, DC

MeJah Books & Crafts, Tri-State Mall – Claymont, DE
Ninth Street Book Shop – Wilmington, DE

Pyramid Books – Boynton Beach, FL
Dare Books – Longwood, FL

Medu Bookstore, Greenbriar Mall – Atlanta, GA
The Shrine of the Black Madonna – Atlanta, GA
NuBian Books – Morrow, GA

Lushena Bookstore – Bensenville, IL
Books Ink – Chicago, IL
Da Book Joint – Chicago, IL
Frontline Bookstore – Chicago, IL
The Underground Bookstore – Chicago, IL
Black Expression Book Source – Evergreen Park, IL
Azizi Books – Matteson, IL
Afri-Ware Inc. – Maywood, IL

The Wild Fig Books – Lexington, KY

Community Book Center – New Orleans, LA

Frugal Bookstore – Roxbury, MA
Olive Tree Books-n-Voices – Springfield, MA

Everyone’s Place – Baltimore, MD
Cartel Cafe & Books Store – Oxon Hill, MD

Shrine of the Black Madonna, Book Store and Cultural Center – Detroit, MI
Off the Beaten Path Books & Cafe – Farmington, MI
The Truth Bookstore – Southfield, MI
Hood Book Headquarters – Warren, MI
Black Stone Bookstore & Cultural Center – Ypsilanti, MI

Aframerican Book Store – Omaha, NE

African American Book Store – Hackensack, NJ

Becoming Gods Answer Bookstore – New York, NY
Sister’s Uptown Bookstore – New York, NY
Mood Makers Books & Art Gallery Village Gate Square – Rochester, NY

A Cultural Exchange – Cleveland, OH
Black Art Plus – Columbus, OH
Ujamaa Book Store – Columbus, OH

Big Blue Marble Bookstore – Philadelphia, PA
Black and Nobel – Philadelphia, PA
Hakim’s Bookstore and Gift Shop – Philadelphia, PA
Horizon Books Inc. – Philadelphia, PA

The Pan-African Connection Bookstore – Dallas, TX
The Dock Bookshop – Fort Worth, TX
African Imports Houston – Houston, TX

Positive Vibes – Virginia Beach, VA
House of Consciousness – Norfolk, VA

The Reader’s Choice – Milwaukee, WI

As of April 9, 2014 the number of stores listed above is 54

Please keep in mind that maintaining this list is resource intensive and is done on a volunteer basis.  Check our bookstore database: http://huria.org/bookstores/ for the most update information we have available.  If you find any inaccurate or missing information there please email me troy@aalbc.com.

Only 54 Black Owned Bookstores Remain in America

Posted in 2014, African-American, Bestsellers, book, books, bookstore, Huria Search, reading, Troy's Rants, writers | Tagged , , , | 40 Comments

Get On Up – A New James Brown Movie Coming!

Get On Up (2014) I just learned about this up coming film from my online buddy, CD Burns, an hour ago.  After watching the trailer, I figured I’d share the good news as too.   Of course, it is virtually impossible to judge the quality of a film based upon the trailer, but if you consider the subject, the cast, the music, it is hard to image it being a bad film.

I saw James Brown (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006) perform at the Apollo Theater.  “Mr. Dynamite, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” was in his 70’s and was still able to jump into a knee drop and seemingly defy gravity by levitating back to a standing position.  Read Greg Tate’s article, James Brown Live at the Apollo; it is an excellent retrospective of the amazing career of “Soul Brother Number One.”

The personal life of the “The Godfather of Soul” was far from perfect—all of which makes for a potentially compelling film.

Get On Up (2014)
In Theaters: Aug 1, 2014 Wide

Unrated, Drama, Directed By: Tate Taylor, Universal Pictures, Unrated (as of March 16, 2014)

Get On Up (2014) – Trailer of James Brown Biography

Chadwick Boseman (from the film 42) stars as James Brown in this biopic from Universal Studios and director Tate Taylor (The Help). The film also stars, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis, Lennie James, Tika Sumpter, Jill Scott and Dan Aykroyd.   Brian Grazer, Mick Jagger, Victoria Pearman, and Erica Huggins produce a film penned by Jez and John Henry Butterworth (Fair Game).

Also check out the documentary, James Brown: Soul Survivor (shown below).  The entire film is available for viewing on-line and is also available for purchase on DVD.

James Brown: Soul Survivor (2003)

James-brown-soul-suvivorIn Theaters: Dec 31, 2004 Wide
DVD Release Date: March 9, 2004

Unrated, 1 hr. 30 min., Musical & Performing Arts, Documentary, Directed By: Jeremy Marre, PBS

James Brown: Soul Survivor spans more than four decades of the one and only Godfather of Soul, documenting the rise and fall of the “hardest working man in show business.” Through archival footage, excerpts read from his biography, and interviews with the people closest to the man, you get an inside look at the music and political times which helped shape Brown’s career through the ages. Various friends lending thoughts in the program include the Rev. Al Sharpton, rapper Chuck D, Little Richard, and former long-time musical director Fred Wesley. Performances include segments from a House of Blues gig along with rare, behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage of the maestro at work. Originally aired as part of the American Masters television documentary series, this 90-minute special was later released on DVD under the Polydor label. —Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi

James Brown: Soul Survivor (2003) – Full Movie

James Brown: The Godfather of Soul An Autobiography
James Brown: The Godfather of Soul
Da Capo Press, January 10, 2003

 

james-brown-poster

Get On Up – A New James Brown Movie Coming!

Posted in 2014, African-American, books | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

There is a Lack of Unity Among Black Websites

Over the last year, I’ve invested a lot of effort informing the public about the adverse impact of the corporate take over of the web and how this is hurting independent websites, particularly Black owned ones.

i-support-black-unity

Buy This Button from The House of Nubian

I have, however, not been very critical of the Black owned websites themselves.  Part of the reason for my lack of critique is that I’m very sensitive to the environment and in many ways understand when websites choose not to cooperate or work in unnecessarily competitive ways.

For example, Google, the most popular search engine, is now in a position to dictate to webmasters how to design their websites—what content can be published and how to link to other sites.   A webmaster does not have to comply with Google’s rules, but if they want their website to rank high enough to be found in Google’s search results, they have no choice.

Complying with Google’s mandates is not always easy.  The rules by which their search engine ranks websites changes constantly and no one outside of Google (few inside I suspect) completely understands how Google’s search algorithm works.  As a result, there is an entire industry of search engine optimization (SEO) experts ready to help webmasters with a wide range of tools and techniques to help sites rank high on a Google search result.  The most unscrupulous of these “professionals” will guarantee a number one ranking for a website, or even worse utilize “black hat” techniques (sophisticated ways of cheating) to obtain a higher search result ranking.  These techniques can leave a website worse off, by being penalized by Google for attempting to game their search algorithm and reducing the quality of the site as more emphasis is placed on the SEO than content.

As a consequence of SEO, webmasters now have an incentive not to link to other websites, or when they do link they are encouraged to use rel=”nofollow” which essentially tells Google’s search engine to ignore the link.  Google does not want webmasters to swap links with other websites or to be financially compensated for a link to another site without using rel=”nofollow.” Some webmasters, being overly cautious in avoiding Google’s warth, have gone a step further and have stopped linking to other sites altogether.

Before Google was invented swapping links was one way sites were discovered.  Today, when independent websites are harder to find via search, linking to other sites is even more important, but sadly it is done less frequently.  Many, Black owned, independent websites are not linking to each other in meaningful ways, and we are all harder to find as a result.

ebony-magFrustrated by having to spend more time and effort jumping through Google’s hoops, I’ve decided to more aggressively, and directly, support independent websites.  I visit these websites—not their social media platforms—and share their content, engage others on their discussion forums and comment on their articles.  I encourage everyone to take similar action, but I try to lead by example.

One of the entities I’ve been promoting is Ebony Magazine.  I subscribe to the magazine and have been enjoying Michael A. Gonzales’ Vintage Vision, column on Ebony’s website.  I’ve been promoting Ebony Magazine, as well as all of the Black owned magazines I’m aware of on Huria Search (an advertisement-free website dedicated to supporting Black owned websites).  I also promote Ebony’s website on my listing of the Top Black Websites.  I even have a collection of Ebony Magazine issues going back over 60 years.  I’m a fan and a supporter.

The last issue contained an informative article about Black Americans exiled in Cuba.  It was an interesting article and I learned quite a bit.  I shared my enthusiasm on Twitter:

Recently, I posted the following comment on an article Ebony shared from the, NJ Star-Ledger, about Amiri Baraka’s recent passing.  The comments expressed AALBC.com’s shared grief and a link to a short documentary we produced highlighting Baraka’s work.

Ebony marked the comment as spam!!

ebony-spam

Now I understand if Ebony does not want to link to a another site (as explained in great detail above), but they did not have to hurt AALBC.com by marking the post as spam.  They could have simply not allowed the comment to be seen.   Not only was the comment the exact opposite of spam, one could argue that Ebony, or at least their visitors, would have benefited from the link.

nothing-foundI do not support Ebony Magazine because I expect anything in return.  I learned long ago that the biggest websites are the ones least likely to reciprocate.  I do not support Ebony because I like I everything they do.

I support Ebony because what they do is increasingly rare and more important than ever to the Black community.  Their coverage of books in the last issue was good too—not the usual diet of celebrity books many magazines and websites feel obliged to focus on.  In fact, I tweeted about their book coverage as well.

My motivation is not to call out one magazine on a trivial slight, no one would have know about unless I mentioned it.  My goal is to highlight a symptom of a much bigger problem that manifests in numerable ways across the Internet landscape.  The fact of the matter is we are simply not working together, as well as we must, to survive.

Individually, none of us have a chance to compete, over the long term, against the huge corporations taking over the World Wide Web.  Embracing social media is not the answer.  Collectively, we provide FAR more support and promotion of social media platforms than we do our own and we continue to lose.

Unless we bind  together, support and uplift each other, we have no chance of retaining ownership of our voice on the web.  When we lose our voice, we see articles focusing on our scandals rather than our triumphs, we see content that is the most marketable rather than the most important.  We also lose our ability to create business and generate revenue online. We have already lost so much, but we still continue to willingly relinquish what little we have left.

I’m fighting to reverse this trend.  Will you help?

Additional Resources

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...There is a Lack of Unity Among Black Websites

Posted in 2014, AALBC.com News, African-American, books, Culture, Huria Search, Independence, internet, Magazines, partnership, Race, Website Tips and Recommendations, writers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments