Death of the Black Owned, Independent, Bookstore

Editor’s Note: We published an update of our bookstores in March of 2014.

One of the very first things I put on’s web site, back in 1999, was a list of independent, Black owned, bookstores.   This list was very difficult to maintain and over the years various individuals contributed to help keep it up to date.  My list, unfortunately, had not been updated since 2007.

Nkiru Books, a Brooklyn based institution founded in 1977, closed in 2002 - Photo Credit: Marcia Wilson

Nkiru Books, a Brooklyn based institution founded in 1977, closed in 2002 (not included on list below) – Photo Credit: Marcia Wilson

The Good News First:
In a joint effort, that included ABLE (The Alliance for Black Literature and Entertainment), and, the out of date list of independent, Black owned, bookstores was revived and updated into database driven directory with maps, social media, photos and more.  The new bookstore database was launched today today and is available at and here on (

Here is the Bad News:
When I looked over the results of our Bookstore research, my heart fell as I discovered more than 2 out of 3 stores that were in business just a few years ago are now closed.   I’ve shared the list of the closed bookstores below.  I have nothing more meaningful to add.  The list speaks for itself…

A & B Distributors – Brooklyn, NY
African & Islamic Books Plus – Cleveland, OH
African American Books and Publishing – Baltimore, MD
African American Gift Gallery – Knoxville, TN
African American Heritage Book – West Palm Beach, FL
African Artisans – Baldwin, NY
African Book Store – Fort Lauderdale, FL
African Heritage Books & Gifts – San Francisco, CA
African House Institute of Learning – Jersey City, NJ
African Marketplace – Los Angeles, CA
Afro Books – Atlanta, GA
Afrocentric Book Store – Chicago, IL
Afrocentric Books & Cafe – St. Louis, MO
Alkebulan Books – Berkeley, CA
Amen-Ra’s Bookstore and Gallery – Tallahassee, FL
Arawak Books – Hyattsville, MD
Ascension Books – Columbia, MD
Asiatic the Soul of Black Folks – Toronto, ON
Atlantic Bookpost – Reston, VA
B.T.S. Unlimited Books – Detroit, MI
Baruti-Ba Books – Dayton, OH
Bishari Urban Books, Phoenix Crossing Shopping Center – , NC
Black Book Discounters – Houston, TX
Black By Popular Demand – Hyattsville, MD
Black Classics – Books & Gifts – Mobile, AL
Black Images Book Bazaar – Dallas, TX
Black Spring Books – Vallejo, CA
Black Swan Books & Coffee – Kohler, WI
Blacknificent Books & More – Raleigh, NC
Blackprint Heritage Gallery – New Haven, CT
Book House Cafe & Gifts – Benton Harbor, MI
Books In Color – North Highlands, CA
Books in the Black – Columbia, SC
Bright Lights Children’s Bookstore – Inglewood, CA
Brother’s Books – Seattle, WA
Carol’s Essentials Ethnic Gifts and Books – Seattle, WA
Celebrate – Peachtree City, GA
Crescent Office Store – East Orange, NJ
Cultural Bookstore  – Chicago, IL
Cultural Expression – Newport News, VA
D & J Book Distributors – Laurelton, NY
Da Book Joint – Chicago, IL
DARE Books & Educational Supplies – Brooklyn, NY
DeesBookNook Distributors – So. Richmond Hills, NY
Dorothea’s African-American Books and Gifts – Columbia, SC
Drum and Spear Books – Washington, DC
Dygnyti Books – Hamden, CT
Dynasty Bookstore, Eastland Mall – Charlotte, NC
EDEN Books – Hartford, CT
Education 2000+ Bookstore – Long Beach, CA
Education Central, Sunny Isle Shopping Plaza – St. Croix,
Ethnic Elegance – Jacksonville, FL
Exhale African American Books & Gifts – Sugar Land, TX
Faith To Faith Books  – Minneapolis, MN
Forewords Books & Gifts, Located in Originations Gallery – Ann Arbor, MI
Freedom Now Bookstore – Decatur, GA
Gene’s Books – King of Prussia, PA
Haneef’s Bookstore and Mosi Art Gallery – Wilmington, DE
Heritage Bookstore and More – Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Heritage House – Charlotte, NC
Imagine This! Books Etc. – Memphis, TN
IronWood Corner – Pasadena, CA
Jamaicaway Books & Gifts – Boston, MA
Kana CDs & Books – Columbus, Ohio [Owner Cedric Reed closed the store in 2008 and cntinued Operation on-line until 2009]
Karibu Books – Hyattsville, MD, (6 Locations)
Know Thyself, Bookstore and Cultural Development Center – Philadelphia, PA
Kongo Square Gallery – Los Angeles, CA
LaCeter’s Book Service – Southfield, MI
Liberation Bookstore – New York, NY
Ligorius Bookstore Inc. – Philadelphia, PA
Living Room Book & Pastry – Greensboro, NC
Lodestar Books – Birmingham, AL
Love Christian Book Store – Orlando, FL
Mahogany Books – Detroit, MI
Mahogany Books & Gifts – Fairfield, AL
Matais Books Cards & Art – Long Beach, CA
Mind & Soul Bookstore, Inc. – Trenton, NJ
MochaReaders – Dayton, OH [Owner Rhonda Bogan thought long and hard about tough decision of closing store in 2011]
Montsho BookFairs, Etc., Inc. – Orlando, FL
Mt. Zion Kid’s Village, Little Angels Children’s Bookstore – Jonesboro, GA
Nefertiti’s Books and Gifts  – Jacksonville, FL
Nimde Books – Louisville, KY
Nu World of Books – Beaumont, TX
Off The Shelf African American Books – Columbia, SC
One Force Books – Richmond, VA
Our Black Heritage – New York, NY
Out of Africa, Windsor Park Mall – San Antonio, TX
Paperback Connection – Oklahoma City, OK
Paradise Book Store – Peoria, AZ
Peek-A-Boo Books II, Wheaton Mall – Wheaton, MD
People’s Books & Gifts – Springfield, OH
Phenix Information Center – San Bernardino, CA
PowerHouse Books – Hopkins, SC
Precious Memories Reading and Collectibles – Richmond, VA
Rainbow Books & Blooms – Yorktown Heights, NY
Reading Room Bookstore  – Chicago, IL
Roots & Wings: A Cultural Bookplace  – Montgomery, AL
Sacred Thoughts Bookstore – Jersey City, NJ
Sensational Minds – Savannah, GA
Serengeti Plains  – Montclair, NJ
Shades of Sienna – Oakland, CA
Sidewalk University – Memphis, TN
Soul Source Bookstore – Atlanta, GA
Special Occasions – Winston-Salem, NC
Stouffville Book Connection Inc – Stouffville, ON
TDIR Books – Columbia, SC
Tenaj Books & Gift Gallery – Fort Pierce, FL
The Black Bookworm – Fort Worth, TX
The Black Library – Boston, MA
The Book House Café, LGBT Books – Oakland, CA
The Book Lovers Lounge – Lauderdale Lakes, FL
The Cultural Connection Bookstore  – Milwaukee, WI
The Heritage Center – Vicksburg, MS
The Know Bookstore – Durham, NC
The Living Word Bookstore – Chicago, IL
The Presence of Africans In the Bible Book Center – Minneapolis, MN
The Reading Room Bookstore – Atlanta, GA
The Roots Book Store, Inside of Tapers Hair Care – Baton Rouge, LA
Too-No Books Etc. – Moss Point, MS
Treasures of the Mind Bookstore – St. Louis, MO
Tricia’s Books N’ Things – Houston, TX
Truth Boutique & Bookstore, Eastland Mall #823 – Harper Woods, MI
Tunde Dada House of Africa – Orange, NJ
Tunde Dada House of Africa, Green Acres Mall – Valley Stream, NY
Two Friends Bookstore – Atlanta, GA
Uhuru Books – Minneapolis, MN
Under One Roof Afrikan American Bookstore – Killeen, TX
W&W African American Art, Specializing in Books & Gift Items, Etc. – Fayetteville, NC
X-pression Bookstore & Gallery – Indianapolis, IN
Yawa Books – Washington, DC
Yehudah Inc. – Teaneck, NJ
Zawadi Gift Shop – Brooklyn, NY

…Actually I do have something to add.  If you happen to reside in a community fortunate enough to have an independent bookstore, please support it.  These establishments are true community and cultural, treasures.   Sure eBooks and websites are great, but not everything can be replaced with machines and technology.

While we attempted to make this list as accurate as possible, mistakes do occur.  If there is a store posted here that is indeed open please lets of know so that we may remove it from this list and add it to our database of bookstores.  You may post the correction in the comments below or email me at

Our database of bookstores can be made available to anyone interested in posting it on their website, with a single line of code.  Email me at if you are interested.

Here is a related article: Top Ten Reasons Why African American Bookstores Are Closing by Gwen Richardson

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About Troy

Troy D. Johnson is the President, founder and webmaster of, LLC (The African American Literature Book Club). Launched in March of 1998, has grown to become the largest and most frequently visited website dedicated to books and films by and about people of African descent.
This entry was posted in 2012, African-American, books, Culture, Huria Search, partnership, Troy's Rants and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Corey Burkes

    I’m not surprised on two fronts. One one hand, brick and mortar shops have had their fates sealed since the internet became a viable anti-social/social tool. The moment someone made their first credit card payment safely online, the clock started ticking for stores. Even worse when WalMart and Amazon got down to business.

    On the other hand, there is a lot of arrogance in Black business. Many are in this frame of mind that they ‘don’t need no help’ and least of all they don’t need anyone telling them how to run their business. Could be a bookstore or Rib Shack (shout out to Jamaica Queens! THAT Rib Shack is still in business going on … damn … 30+ years???). Wise business people survive, of course but I found from the majority of book store owners an introverted, solo commanding, ‘I’m in control and don’t need advice’ stance that doomed most of them all. The crime: Inability to think out of the box and believe that being a Black bookstore means BLACK ONLY BOOKS.

    While it’s cool and honorable to raise the flag of solidarity to the Black cause; lord knows we need bookstores in our community, but when the market is shifting and technology is moving faster, tastes are changing and selections are rapidly evolving, why are these book stores still carrying hundreds of copies of IceBerg Slim, bronze statues of an African Giraffe, pounds of incense smacking you in the face the moment you walk through the door and dilapidated racks of Black only children’s books written back when I was first born (I’m 43 now). While we want to cater to our community, money has only one color and those who want to spend it, Black or any other culture, have a hard time walking into a 1000% afro-centric fight-the-power shop just to get a book.

    Now that we’re in the renaissance of literature with almost everyone self-publishing, these same Book stores, instead of properly selecting authors reasonably, took on the position of demi-gods and waved their hands to act as benevolent overlords: “You shall pass and be blessed on my shelf. You shall not. You need to be represented by an agent. You shall not have a book signing here. You shall pay me 75%. You shall pay me 10%.” Just as the rise of self-publishing and eBooks shed its light on the world, these book stores continued to think that they were the end all and be all of every author’s direction. That all authors HAD to be on their shelves and they had the magic touch to decide who will be blessed or not in their shops.

    Which, of course, is not the case. Ask Border’s Books and Music. Swallowed whole by the shift in industry. If a huge store like that can fall, what do you think can happen to the average book store if they aren’t taking on an approach similar to the internet and serving ALL people with ease and simplicity?

    I’m a firm believer that any business can thrive in the worst of times and those who do are usually people who adapt, change and keep thinking of new ways to motivate and touch people. While your list of stores may have fallen for hundreds of reasons, I can guarantee they are closed with one common thread: Poor business strategy/skills. In there incorporates the inability to think out of the box and be more than JUST a Black book store.

    We tend to forget that being Black is NOT a singular frame of mind as we’d like to think. Kind of like ‘Linear workflows’ in video editing. There is the level of Black that we all see and think is the same, but to be quite honest, there are DEEPER levels of Black that we don’t see and with that, there are different tastes, ways of thinking and choices in buying. Two Blacks living in Atlanta ARE NOT the same two blacks looking for a hand-wrapped bottle of mystery yellow essence juice sitting at a counter for $2.00 a vile. The Nigerian FROM Nigeria living on your block may have nothing to do with a vat of BLACK SOAP and wants a James Patterson novel while the woman down the block who was born in America and isn’t aware that her family originated from Nigeria, LOVES her some Shea Butter but still wants to read ‘Twilight’. Both books won’t be found at many Black book stores when many people of color read those as well as the next Baby Mama pulp.

    So how can you expect the Black community, made up of multiple layers of diverse ‘Black’, to support a store that supports just ONE layer of Black? And then top it off by saying they don’t need help.

    To them, I say goodbye … with a heavy heart because we need them … but not THEM, if that makes any sense.

  • Crystal Wilkinson

    Maybe you didn’t know about us but Ron and I own a bookstore in Lexington, KY! I wish I had known you were doing this post in advance. I would have chimed in. We opened THE WILD FIG (named after a poem by Gayl Jones–Wild Figs and Secret Places) on June 20 2011. Nearly a year and going strong. Hope all is well. xoxo

    • Troy

      Please Crystal — chime in and share some of the keys to your stores success too.
      I’ve also added Wild Fig to our bookstore database. The Wild Fig Bookstore

      Please share and let now about any other bookstores I may have missed.

  • Sue Rock

    The image on the top of the page nearly broke my heart – NKIRU books is now an eatery in Brooklyn!

    • Troy

      Hi Sue, I hear you, I used to live around the corner. Nkiru isn’t even on my list because it closed so long ago. The NJ/NY Nets are building their arena down the street, that area is a mess now.

  • Akbar

    African-American books and authors are our specialty: fiction, nonfiction, self-help, metaphysics, mysteries, Egyptology, Pan African, spiritual, science fiction, self-published and hard to find books. Pyramid Books Editing Services is available to aspiring and published writers. Pyramid Books celebrates Black History Month 365 days a year to educate all people about the African Diaspora. A proud Essence and NY Times reporting store. We stand for Hope and Possibility in the book industry

  • BreatheBooks

    The Truth Bookstore has been open for over 12 years now, and still is in full operation at Northland Mall in suburban Detroit (Southfield). The store moved to a better location in the mall. I spoke with the owner today. A second location, Truth Boutique & Bookstore at Eastland Mall (also suburban Detroit – Harper Woods) was under the same ownership but unfortunately it was forced to closed.

    1) The page does not display The Truth Bookstore at all
    2) Both locations are listed on the closed bookstores page at
    3) The page does not display The Truth Bookstore at all

    Here is the updated information:

    The Truth Bookstore
    Northland Mall #779
    21500 Northwestern Highway
    Southfield, MI 48075
    Contact: Jelani

    • Troy

      Hi Breathebooks, thanks for taking the time to make these corrections — I really appreciate it. I’ve updated both the Blog post and bookstore database here the The Truth Bookstore’s entry:

    • Sonya Ward

      I have relatives in the Detroit and Southfield area and I am huge fan of your bookstore! I am so glad that you are still open 12 years later, and wish you much success moving forward!

  • Sonya Ward

    Hi Troy -Thanks so much for posting this wonderful article. Many of my beloved African American bookstores have closed in my hometown, Atlanta however, many of them are still open 10+ years later such as The Shrine, Medu, and Nubian. I would like to point out that many independent (“Indies”) bookstores – both black and white are suffering due to the popularity of online shopping, Kindles, Nooks, etc.

    I recently opened a bookstore in Jackson, MS, Books and Beignets Bookstore in September of 2011, and many people asked, “why?” and I said, “why not?” Call me crazy, but I am a firm believer that there will be a resurgence of the brick and mortar independent bookstore. We cannot compete with Amazon, Wal-Mart/Sam’s, or Barnes and Noble; we have to find our own niche. For example, I decided to diversify and add ALL books. For instance, our biggest seller right now is, “The Hunger Games”, along with, “The Family Business” by Carl Weber. :) We are located in a mall that is 70% black and 30% white yet 65% of our customers are Caucasian and repeat customers. Green does not have a color. :)

    The majority of our customers are repeat customers — people who come back to shop regardless of price. Customer service is so very important and to know the product. I try to read every book in my store to be able to discuss the book(s) with customers. I encourage them to come back to share their thoughts. I also try to integrate with technology and use social media (Facebook). This is a great way to advertise and market!

    I have also networked with a few other black-owned bookstores and we continue to help each other — even if we simply need to talk and keep each other sane in this business. It is a tough business. I commend all of the bookstores that are still in business many years later!

    Despite everything above, it is still a daily struggle because book sales at brick and mortars are declining at a rapid pace. Because of this, I will continue to keep my “day job” as an educator for now. Although it is a struggle, I enjoy what I do and I will continue to think positive and know that I am making some type of difference in my community. We recently secured a few contracts with a few schools to supply books for the Jackson Public Schools 2012 Summer Reading Program. This will help tremendously.

    Thanks again for your article and the support!

    Sonya Ward
    Books and Beignets Bookstore

  • Troy

    Sonya – A luta Continua!

    Messages like your are so very encouraging. Thanks for prositing information abut your store I will try to visit it before the month is out. In meantime I have added your boostore to our database: (please email me any corrections

    Clearly you are not in the bookstore business for just the money. This is so very important not just for the success of the bookstore, but for its very spirit. Congrats!

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  • Kyra

    Troy – thank you for the list! I’ve posted a link to your article on my blog.

  • mdsouza

    Hi I wish I had better news but due to health reasons, I am saddened to announce that the brick and mortar store African Bookstore as of May 1 will be closing. The website will continue under new management in the coming weeks.

    African Book Store
    3600 W. Broward Blvd.
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312-1014

    • Troy

      mdsouza I’m sorry to read this. I trust you health will improve over time.

      I am creating a database of Black book websites: the start of it is here I’ll add your bookstore there as well:

      This is the 2nd Florida based bookstore I’m adding to the list above since I made this post. As far as I can tell only 2 Black owned independent bookstores remain in the entire state of Florida.

  • Troy

    The following message was send to me by the owner of The Pan-African Connection Bookstore. I post it here unaltered as I received it:

    This article was passed on to us, please thank the folks that put it together. In addition please add us to your list of bookstores, we have been in business for almost 23 years and we know the great challenges, and sacrifice, but we understand our historical responsibility. My husband Bandele Tyehimba loved African people more than anything, opened the store in 1989 and worked collectively with all the bookstores, like Black Images and Under one Roof, never in competition but completely in support of one another. My husband passed away 2 months ago at the age of 58 at the store, the community institution he built for the forward movement of African people. Don’t worry my children and I will take the baton and continue his work.
    The Pan-African Connection Bookstore
    828 Fourth Ave.
    Dallas, Tx 75226
    Forward Ever,
    Akwete Tyehimba

  • LaQuita Adams

    Add The Literary Joint Bookstores or TLJ Bookstores. We are here in Maryland. 3 Locations and this year will make 4 years for us going strong and being a positive influence in the DC, MD, & VA community.
    TLJ Bookstores
    The Centre at Forestville
    3383 Donnell Drive
    Forestville, MD 20747

    The Mall at Prince George’s
    3500 East West Highway
    Hyattsville, MD 20782

    Security Square Mall
    6901 Security Square Boulevard
    Windsor Mill, MD 21244

    fb literary joint bookstore
    fb The Literary Joint Bookstore
    twitter @tljbookstore

  • Lynda M. Johnson

    I can’t thank you enough for this valuable list of book stores. Go On Girl! Book Club makes it our mission to support Black owned independent book stores just like our authors they are the life line to getting the books that tell OUR stories. We will post it on our website.

    • Troy

      Hi Lynda, I could not have said it better myself. Thanks for sharing the information. In fact, if you are interested I can provide you with a snippet of code which will allow you to host the bookstore database on you site. Just drop me an email or call. It is same snippet of code that I use to host the bookstore database on

  • Milton

    Hello Troy,
    Thank you very much for this list! I compiled one on my own and I’m anxious to see how it correlates to yours. As an independent writer of science fiction and fantasy I feel what I and my fellow writers create can be an additional revenue stream from black book stores. Most African Americans seeking such books currently solicit the big box stores on search online. If they discovered that black book stores carried science fiction and fantasy titles that spoke directly to them it could bring in their business. I urge my fellow writers to work with their local black book stores as I do and to set their books up for distribution so they can have access to those outside their area. I know the technology has created a challenge for all book stores, but I think black bookstores can survive if they work more closely with black writers and vis versa.

    • Troy

      Milton, please let me know if you discover any bookstores that are not in my database or closed ones that I’ve included. We actually lost two stores that were open when I wrote this Blog post. I have added about 10 store that recently opened or that were missed completely.

      I agree with you regarding working with book stores, but keep in mind it is sometimes difficult for a single store to deal, individually, with each prospective author to sell their books. As you mentioned, getting distribution help. Are there any national distributors that you you would recommend? What have you found are the best ways to reach stores to inform them about your book? Have you found the sales staff for distributors or the publishers helpful?

  • Troy

    I added several more stores to the list of closed stores above. One of those stores closed just a few weeks ago.

    I also added a few more bookstores to the active bookstore database. This of course will be an on going effort — so please forward information, to me at, this will help us maintain the quality of our database.

  • Milton

    I’m in contact with a distributor right now. As soon as I can confirm things I’ll share his information . I don’t want to lead anyone down the wrong path.

  • yao glover


    Thanks for the list. So important and useful for all of us.

  • Guest

    Very informative. Thank you!

  • Ayoka

    This was very informative. In every city I have ever traveled to, I always seek out the Black bookstore because not only are they bookstores but they are independent centers of learning and cultural meccas. I have been to many on this list. Treasures to say the least. I am saddened to see them go under the guises of technology and convenience.

  • TheBlaqueProfessor

    This is really sad, not only for consumers, but also for aspiring booksellers. I’ve been plotting a bookstore for quite some time and am finally going to do it, no matter how bad this sad news appears. I am determined and believe I’ll succeed where others may have failed or given up too soon. I hope the booksellers who did not make it don’t give up because the article is right: ebooks and technology can never replace the feel of holding a book in one’s hands or lovingly placing them on shelves. Such things are my life and I’ll never give them up. Happy reading!

    • Troy Johnson

      I would encourage you to reach out to some of the current bookstore owners as well as some of those whose stores have closed. Every story is very different but there are valuable lesson from each one. No need to reinvent the wheel or learn lessons the hard way if you can avoid it.

      Bro Yao and Sonya Ward who have comment here would be good resources (if they don’t mind me saying).

  • Troy Johnson

    Hi Efia The work you are doing looks fantastic. In order to add your bookstore to our database a need a physical address, you’ve provided a PO Box. Thanks!

  • Troy Johnson

    Best-selling authors weigh in on the issue of rapidly closing Black Owned book stores:

  • Frederick Lowe

    Troy, Marcus Books, a black-owned bookstore in San Francisco, may close. Do you know anything about it.—

    • Troy Johnson

      Yes I did read about the apparently imminent closing of Marcus books. Actually I just blogged about this:

  • Otieno

    Thanks for launching the new bookstore database. I have an update for Uhuru Books formerly in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Uhuru Books is reopening across the river in Saint Paul, back by popular demand, the new address is 308 Prince Street #258, Saint Paul, MN 55101. email:, tel: 612-812-1325.

    • Troy Johnson

      Hi Otieno, glad to hear you’ve reopened. I created a page for your store: please send a photo of the store, and youtube video stores hours, website address and I’ll add it to the web page. Congrats!

  • Mel Dawn

    Thank you for the great blog post. It’s sad how independents are disappearing. If you have a gazilliong books then try bookshelves ga.


    Thanks for keeping the legacy alive ! We have a bookstore to add to the list EUPHORIA BOOKS AND WELLNESS HOUSE< 7062214830 Columbus , Georgia. 31906 / we have operated for Five years.

    • Troy Johnson

      I would be happy to add your store to our database but I need a bit more information–inclduing a complete street address. Please visit to get an idea of the type of information we maintain.