October Bestsellers, Award Winning Books, New Bookstores and More

Bestselling Books September/October 2017
October bestsellers

The fiction category was dominated by Sadeqa Johnson’s novel Second House from the Corner, which tops our bestsellers list for the 2nd straight period. Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s A Kind of Freedom makes its debut on our list this period and is already one of the most critically acclaimed books for 2017.

Nonfiction was the top-selling genre for the Sept/Oct 2017 period. The bestsellers in the nonfiction category are a nice mix of new books and classic titles. Anthony Browder’s seminal work, Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization should be required reading for all Americans (check out Browder’s documentary film covering the book subject).

Children’s Books sales were led by Rita Williams-Garcia’s One Crazy Summer, which has made our bestsellers list 11 times and is now our all-time bestselling children’s book. Bright Eyes, Brown Skin by Cheryl Willis Hudson, originally published in 1990, is still a favorite with our readers. It was the first children’s book published, illustrated, and written by Black people to win a major award.

Poetry sells each 2 month period for which we report, however sales were insufficient to compile a bestsellers for the genre. The last poetry list was last reported Jan/Feb 2017.

Winners of the 2017 National Book AwardsNational Book Awards

Jesmyn Ward won a National Book Award, for the second time, with her novel Sing, Unburied, Sing. Ward’s first win was in 2011 for Salvage the Bones.

There were 8 additional Black authors who were longlisted or finalists for a National Book Award this year, including Rita Williams-Garcia. Her children’s book Clayton Byrd Goes Underground was a finalist in the Young People’s Literature category.

The Talented Ribkins Wins Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

The Talented RibkinsNew Orleans writer and educator Ladee Hubbard’s debut novel, The Talented Ribkins, has won the 2017 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.

“For sheer reading pleasure Ladee Hubbard’s original and wildly inventive novel is in a class by itself.” —Toni Morrison

Inspired by W. E. B. Du Bois’s famous essay “The Talented Tenth” and fuelled by Ladee Hubbard’s marvelously original imagination, The Talented Ribkins is a big-hearted debut novel about race, class, politics, and the unique gifts that, while they may cause some problems from time to time, bind a family together.

Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Black Book Industry?

Would You Boycott Amazon“Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Book Industry?”Ruth J. Morrison, CEO and Executive Producer, What’s The 411TV; and AALBC.com Founder, Troy Johnson discuss, in a video, Amazon’s effect on the “Black Book Ecosystem” (Black writers, printers, booksellers, distributors, marketers, readers, etc.) and how the algorithms of digital search has hurt Black-owned websites.

Also check out the results of our poll, “Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Book Industry?

Perhaps the salvation of the Black Book Ecosystem may lie in us abandoning Amazon’s bookstore and utilizing our own resources. Join our new platform to explore the feasibility of launching a Boycott of Amazon’s bookstore.

What the Heck Happened to Poetry Book Sales?

Poetry BooksWhen I first started publishing bestsellers lists in the late 1990s poetry sold extremely well on AALBC.com. This was during a period when it was almost a cliché that; “Poetry Doesn’t Sell.” Despite that, the groundbreaking poetry anthology 360° A Revolution of Black Poets was one of our first Bestselling books. Jessica Care Moore’s Moore Black Press was the top selling publisher and Saul Williams was the all-time bestselling author on the website throughout the 1990s.

Over the past few years we’ve seen more critically acclaimed poetry published than perhaps any period before. Tyehimba Jess Olio won a Pulitzer Prize this year, Rita Dove’s Collected Poems: 1974–2004 was a finalist for a National Book Award last year, and I could go on. While AALBC.com cannot represent an entire industry; it has performed very well in anticipating emerging trends. A drop in poetry sales is not a trend I’d welcome.

If you’ve never purchased poetry, check out one of these titles, you might be struck in an unexpected way.

Two New Independent Bookstores Open This Week

UNcle Bobbie Coffee and BooksMahoganyBooks is taking up new space in the 9,300 square-foot arts center — the first bookstore to serve the Anacostia [SE Washington, DC] neighborhood since Pyramid Books closed in the mid-1990s — the company is far from new. For the past decade Mahogany has successfully sold books online and will continue to do so along with in-person sales at its new location. The company has also serviced numerous book events and book clubs in the Washington metro area. Read more at Atlanta Black Star.

Marc Lamont Hill, a noted author, social commentator and professor, has made a foray into entrepreneurship by opening a new coffee shop and bookstore in Philadelphia.
His new shop, Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books opened Monday, November 27. Read more at The Philadelphia Tribune.

Annual Harlem FeteThe Annual Harlem Fete is December 4, 2017

If you can get to Harlem and want to celebrate Black literature with the folks who create and produce it, join us at our annual Harlem Fete.

When: Monday December 4th 2017, 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Settepani 196 Lenox Ave (at the corner of SE corner of 120th street), in Harlem New York
RSVP: annualharlemfete@gmail.com

Troy Johnson AALBC.com Founder and WebmasterDear Reader,

Your feedback, support, patronage, and engagement is the only reason AALBC.com has lasted 20 years.

Peace & Love,
troy signature
Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com

Our newsletter may be read on your Kindle ebook reader or read via RSS. Consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.

AALBC.com LogoAALBC.com eNewsletter – November 28, 2017 – Issue #251

“Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Black Book Industry?”

Exploring The Feasibility Boycotting Amazon’s Bookstore

In the following video, Ruth J. Morrison, CEO and Executive Producer, What’s The 411TV; and I discuss Amazon’s adverse effect on the “Black Book Ecosystem” (Black writers, printers, booksellers, distributors, marketers, readers, etc) and how the algorithms of digital search has hurt Black-owned websites.

Perhaps the salvation of the Black Book Ecosystem may lies in Black people abandoning Amazon’s bookstore and using our own resources…

The reality is that Amazon’s adverse impact on the book industry transcends any niche, however, you know the saying, “When white folks catch a cold, Black folks get pneumonia.”

Several weeks ago I conducted a survey in which I asked the following question:

“Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Book Industry?”

The question was not limited to just the Black book ecosystem, but the entire industry.  Many took this to mean mainstream publishing.

For the sake of clarity, boycotting Amazon’s bookstore is not being considered to save the “Big Five,” (Hachette Book Group, HarperCollinsMacmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster), New York based publishing houses.

While the “Big Five” are adversely impacted, by Amazon’s near monopolistic dominance, this potential boycott is about saving the entire book industry which includes; independent presses; self-published authors; indie booksellers; and, most importantly, readers.

“Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Book Industry?”

When I posed this question,  I had no idea how strong options were on both sides of this issue. The majority of respondents, 65%, were in favor of a boycotting Amazon’s bookstore—indeed several had already launched a personal boycott.

Others were boycotting not just Amazon’s bookstore, but all of Amazon.com and the many websites they own from Abebooks to Zappos shoe store for a variety of reasons including Amazon’s oppressive labor practices, tax avoidance, and more.

28% of the respondents were against a boycott of Amazon’s bookstore.  The main reason cited by authors was the fact that without Amazon they would be unable to sell their books—this is precisely why this boycott is being considered.

Just over 7% were unsure if they would participate in a boycott.  Most of these respondents appreciated both sides of the issue, but were unsure of the what the right course of action should be, or doubted that any action was necessary.

Review the Complete Details of Our Survey Results

Below I’ve highlighted the most popular reasons people were against a boycott of Amazon’s  bookstore.

    1. Amazon is Inexpensive, Easy to Use, and They Deliver Books for Free
      Amazon also has the power to wring discounts out of major publishers that are unavailable to any other bookseller.  As a result, it is impossible for any independent bookseller to compete with Amazon on price.  While Amazon can afford to sell books at a loss for the foreseeable future, it does not seem likely this tactic will continue indefinitely. Prices will naturally increase and in the absence of competition prices will be higher than they the should be.
    2. I Read Kindle eBooks
      The format that is most popular is Amazon’s Kindle which commands 83% of U.S. ebook business. The rest of the shrinking ebook competition is essentially shared with Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Google. Worse, many authors have chosen to give Amazon exclusivity for their ebooks sales. For all practical purposes Amazon is a monopoly for eBooks.Of course under a monopoly, with a proprietary ebook format, readers and authors are worse off than they would be if there were more options to buy, sell, and distribute ebooks.
    3. Amazon Published Me When Traditional Publishers Rejected My Book
      Amazon does not reject anyone. Amazon makes money not matter what the quality of the book is, because the author pays all the expenses and incurs all the risk. There is no shortage of companies that can provide this service.Traditional publishers invest in an author’s work by paying them an advance. The writer does not pay to have their book produced, marketed, and distributed. Of course some books, most even, will be rejected in this system but not every book is commercially viable.
  1. Amazon is Too Powerful to be Impacted by a Boycott
    No company is too powerful to be boycotted.  The issue is; are the short term sacrifices, worth the long term benefits, to enough people?

I have no idea when, or even if, a boycott of Amazon will take place. What I do know is that part of the reason Amazon is dominates the Black Book Ecosystem is that we are not exercising our options. We can free ourselves, of our dependency on Amazon, by choosing or creating alternatives that may actually be better.

There simply too many organizations, unions, guilds, publishers, authors, booksellers, distributors, and readers who understand the adverse impact Amazon’s near monopoly has on the business of books for us to stand by and do nothing about it.

If you are interested in helping to organize a boycott of Amazon’s Bookstore, please join our platform to discuss in more detail.


Feel free to email me any questions or concerns you may have. Also, keep in mind this is not “my” effort it is “our” effort. None of us can have an impact alone; we need each other for us to reap the benefits of reducing or even eliminating Amazon’s dominance of the book industry.

Please share this blog post with anyone you think may be interested.  Please complete the short form below to join our mailing list to help organize this effort.

If you are interested in helping to organize a boycott of Amazon’s Bookstore, please provide your contact information and we’ll contact you shortly.

Troy Johnson
AALBC.com, Founder and Webmaster

Book Club Picks – $10 Classics from HarperCollins – Plus More in AALBC’s eNewsletter

Olive editions by Harper Colins

Books a Few Book Clubs are Enjoying this Month

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieThe Tea’s October SelectionWe Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Watch a video of The Tea’s discussion.

The Fire Next Time by James BaldwinGo On Girl! Book Club’s October SelectionThe Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

▪ Voted #71 of the Top 100 Books of the 20th Century
▪ 1 Time AALBC.com Bestselling Book!
▪ Selected for 2 Book Clubs’s Reading Lists
▪ Honored by the National Book Awards in 1964
▪ A QBR 100 Essential Black Book

Originally published in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. Sales of The Fire Next Time on AALBC.com helps support Go On Girl! Book Club’s scholarship fund.

The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues by Edward Kelsey MooreFolktales’ Black Women’s Literary Society’s October SelectionThe Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues by Edward Kelsey Moore

From the author of the bestselling The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues, an exuberant and poignant novel of passions, family, and forgiveness. When a late life love affair blooms between Mr. Forrest Payne, the owner of the Pink Slipper Gentleman’s Club, and Miss Beatrice Jordan, famous for stationing herself at the edge of the club’s parking lot and yelling warnings of eternal damnation at the departing patrons,…

Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu is Our #2 All-Time Bestselling Author
Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu is Our #2 All-Time Bestselling Author

Dr. Kunjufu has made AALBC.com bestsellers list an astonishing 85 times with 16 different books! His book focus on the subject educating Black boys.

“I’ve read The Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys about five times over the last 25 years or so. Anybody who has a relationship with a black boy should read this book.”—Reginald Johnson

Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Book Industry?Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Book Industry?

As Amazon’s dominance approaches that of true monopoly, the influence of all other booksellers is virtually eliminated. As a result, the discoverability of books is driven by a revenue-maximizing-algorithm rather than curated by a caring human being who knows both books and their readers.

Boycotting Amazon’s bookstore might mean, at least initially, that you’ll have pay a little more for books, or you’ll wait a little longer to get them, but it will also mean you’ll be more likely to enjoy the books you do purchase. Review the results of our survey. Whether you are for or against a boycott of Amazon’s bookstore the comments will surprise you.

Recently Published Noteworthy BooksRecently Published Books of Note

Faces of Praise!: Photos and Gospel Inspirations to Encourage and Uplift by Carol Mackey: This full-color photo gift book that turns chart-topping contemporary gospel music into Bible-based devotions is a three-way blessing for readers: a perfect companion to favorite gospel recordings, an encouraging daily devotional and a unique photo collection.

Pelé: The King of Soccer by Eddy Simon: This graphic novel beautifully depicts Pele’s (widely regarded as the greatest soccer player of all time) rise from the slums of Brazil to the national stage.

100 Amazing Facts About the Negro by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: Gates gives us a corrective yet loving homage to Joel Augustus Rogers’ work. Relying on the latest scholarship, Gates leads us on a romp through African, diasporic, and African-American history in question-and-answer format.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.Longlist for a 2017 National Book Award – Young People’s Literature

I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina: In the first graphic novel for young readers to focus on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, as in Hamlet, the dead shall speak—and the living yield even more surprises.

Colin Kaepernick Signs a $1 Million+ Book DealColin Kaepernick Signs a $1 Million+ Book Deal

“Colin Kaepernick has inked a book deal worth just over $1 million with Random House imprint One World, Page Six has exclusively learned. One World’s headed by book world superstar Chris Jackson, who also publishes Jay-Z and Ta-Nehisi Coates. He launched One World last year.” —The New York Post (10/24/2017)

One World was founded in 1992 and was on the leading edge of imprints created to meet the demand of books telling stories written by and featuring African Americans, a period which only lasted about a decade. One World was relaunched after several years of inactivity. Jackson has been named Editor-in-Chief of the imprint, making him the most powerful Black man in mainstream publishing.

Help Fund Black Documents: Mosaic Literary ConferenceHelp Fund Black Documents: Mosaic Literary Conference

Help fund this year’s Black Documents: Mosaic Literary Conference and related exhibitions. They can’t reach their goal to support Black literature, education, and social causes without your support.

Black Documents: Mosaic Literary Conference will explore historical and contemporary presentations of black identity in literature, media, and photography; and how self-affirming imagery and text can counter negative stereotypes. To this end, the conference will also present photography exhibits Jamel Shabazz: Black Documents and Black Documents: Freedom.

To make it happen, they need your support. Go to their Kickstarter and give what you can. Rewards include exhibit catalogue, posters, book sets, totes and more.

“We Must Patronize Black-Owned Websites or Lose Them”We Must Patronize Black-Owned Websites or Lose Them

Part of AALBC.com’s mission to help promote and uplift independent websites created by, and for, people of African descent. The Top 50 Black Owned SItes represent the strongest of over 300 popular Black-owned websites

We can’t allow a few social media gatekeepers to be the only entities who control access to, and profit from, our culture on the web. Read some of the feedback for this project and why it was started.

New Mailing List for Authors and Publishers

We have creating a new mailing list just for authors, publishers, and people interested in using AALBC.com to market their products. If you would like to continue receiving resources and information relevant to that demographic, please click the “Join the Mailing List” button below.
Join Out Mailing List

Dear Reader,

In a world where we are losing Black-owned websites, of all types, and websites that cover Black books in particular, it is important to emphasize that AALBC.com exists as a result of your patronage and support—In fact, AALBC.com will thrive because of it!

I’d like to thank just a few of the recent newsletter subscribers who have supported AALBC at the Supporter Level or above; H. Cook, C. Smith, and M. Smart. Supporters at the Subscriber Level, while too numerous to mention here, are just as important, for every paid subscription matters.

If you value and believe in uplifting Black literature; please;

Again, your support, patronage, and engagement with the website is the only reason AALBC.com has lasted 20 years, enabling us to publish this, our 250th eNewsletter!

Peace & Love,
troy signature
Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com

Our newsletter may be read on your Kindle ebook reader or read via RSS. Consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.

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AALBC.com eNewsletter – October 26, 2017 – Issue #250