Only 54 Black Owned Bookstores Remain in America

This is a follow up to an article, “Death of the Black Owned, Independent, Bookstore,” which was originally published here on March 25, 2012.   The article highlighted the fact we’d 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.  Web sites that focus on Black books are suffering.  Attendance at book fairs, conferences and festivals are down as well. Some events have even been canceled due to low registration.

Eso Eon Books
Eso Won Books has been serving the Los Angeles community for almost 25 years.

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 minuscule 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 replacing what was lost.

The following is a complete list of the remaining Black-owned independent bookstores in the United States.  Please visit our book section 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.

Do we want to see an America where the ONLY place Black books can be purchased is from Amazon?  Do we really want Amazon to have that responsibility—all by themselves?

If visiting and supporting a Black owned bookstore is physically impractical here are a list of websites you can support, including this one,

La Unique African American Books & Cultural Center, Camden, NJ Opened in 1992
La Unique African American Books & Cultural Ctr, Camden, NJ – Opened in 1992

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

Pyramid Art Books & Custom Framing – Little Rock, AR
That Bookstore In Blytheville – Blytheville, 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 (read what happened)

DC Bookdiva’s Mobile Bookstore – Washington, DC
Sankofa Video and Bookstore – Washington, DC
The Children Of The Sun – Washington, DC

MeJah Books & Crafts, Tri-State Mall – Claymont, DE

Pyramid Books – Boynton Beach, FL
Dare Books – Longwood, FL (relocated from Brooklyn, NY)
Best Books Rich Treasures – Tampa, FL

Medu Bookstore, Greenbriar Mall – Atlanta, GA
The Shrine of the Black Madonna – Atlanta, GA
Euphoria Books and Wellness House, Columbus, 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  (read why they closed)

Afri-Ware Inc. – Maywood, IL

The Wild Fig Books – Lexington, KY (read why they reopened)

Community Book Center – New Orleans, LA

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

Everyone’s Place – Baltimore, MD
Expressions Books and Frames – Baltimore, MD
Jay Books – Baltimore, MD
Urban Moon Books: The Indie Author Outlet – Chesapeake, VA
Wisdom Book Center – Gwynn Oak, MD
Cartel Cafe & Books Store – Oxon Hill, MD
Silver Spring Books – Silver Spring, MD
Urban Knowledge Bookstore – Temple Hills, MD

Black Star Community Book Store –  Detroit, MI
Shrine of the Black Madonna, Book Store and Cultural Center – Detroit, MI
Source Booksellers – Detroit, MI
Off the Beaten Path Books & Cafe – Farmington, MI
Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe – Highland Park, MI
The Truth Bookstore – Southfield, MI
Hood Book Headquarters – Warren, MI
Black Stone Bookstore & Cultural Center – Ypsilanti, MI

Progressive Emporium & Education Center – St. Louis, MO
EyeSeeMe – University City, MO (opened June 2015)

Aframerican Book Store – Omaha, NE

La Unique African American Books & Cultural Center, Camden, NJ
African American Book Store – Hackensack, NJ
Source of Knowledge – Newark, NJ

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

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

Black and Nobel – Philadelphia, PA
Color Book Gallery – Philadelphia, PA
Hakim’s Bookstore and Gift Shop – Philadelphia, PA (The Nation’s Oldest bookstore)
Horizon Books Inc. – Philadelphia, PA
Prosperity Bookstore Inc – Philadelphia, PA

The Booksmith – Seneca, SC
The Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination – Greenville, SC

Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore & Gift Shop – Nashville, TN

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

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

The Reader’s Choice – Milwaukee, WI

Hakim’s Bookstore - Currently in jeopardy of closing (photo circa 1970s by Yvonne Blake)
Hakim’s Bookstore – Currently in jeopardy of closing (photo circa the 1970s by Yvonne Blake)

I have added or removed stores from this list since the article was originally published in April of 2014.  Please reference our bookstore database for the most up to date information about each store. If you find any inaccurate or missing information here please email me  Also, check out our new bookstore map introduced in August of 2014.  Please keep in mind that maintaining this list is resource intensive and is done on a volunteer basis.

Also Worth Reading:

Louis H. Michaux Our Greatest Bookseller



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.

122 thoughts on “Only 54 Black Owned Bookstores Remain in America

  • March 31, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    the House of Consciousness in Norfolk VA

  • March 31, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Amazon has used books for a fraction of the cost, with loads of titles by black authors .Kindle is also very convenient. I tried to support a few black owned bookstores and one of them was NEVER open. I gave up and a short time later they went out of business. That’s when I found Amazon, etc for discounted books.

  • March 31, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    I just did a quick look at the list in Phila and see one does ship to prisons. I will give check them out because the prison my brother is serving time does not allow the used books that are sold from someone’s home. Thanks for sharing the list as I would prefer to spend my money with the store in Philly, Black and Noble, than Barnes and Noble 🙂

    • March 31, 2014 at 10:40 pm

      Hey Vincent, that is the point. No single bookstore can possibly meet every single need for every single reader but when they do we should take advantage of their services.

  • March 31, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Alkebu-Lan Images Book Store -Nashville, TN

    • March 31, 2014 at 10:37 pm

      Thanks Ron, I actually already had Alkebu-Lan on my list: but I could not confirm whether they were still open. I have to review my notes but there is no website we were unable to reach anyone. Are you affiliated with the store? Have you been there recently? Thanks.

  • March 31, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Here is a list of stores whose status I was unable to confirm for a variety of reasons

    Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore & Gift Shop – Nashville, TN
    Black Books Galore, Inc. – Stamford, CT
    Black Mind Book Boutique – Brooklyn, NY
    Books ‘n Things, Cross Keys Plaza – Wichita, KS
    Ethnic Notions Bookstore – Benicia, CA
    Hanna’s Ethnic Bookseller – Claremont, CA
    Imoya Treasures, Inc – Rahway, NJ
    Magnolia Tree Books – Laurel, MS
    MasterWorks Books – Adelphi, MD
    Shrine of the Black Madonna – Houston, TX
    Smiley’s, The Mecca of Information – Carson, CA
    The African Book Shelf – Cleveland, OH
    The Book Suite – Columbus, OH
    Uhuru Books – Saint Paul, MN
    Urban Books On Wheels – Pleasantville, NJ
    Yoruba Book Center – Brooklyn, NY
    Zambezi Bazaar – Los Angeles, CA

    • April 2, 2014 at 10:19 am

      I live in Nashville. Alkebu-Lan is still open. I was there just a few days ago.

  • April 2, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    There’s a Sisters Bookstore inside of the Sweet Auburn Curb Market here in Downtown Atlanta. I buy books there almost weekly.

  • April 3, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    There are none in South Carolina, but I hope in the next two months it will be.

  • April 4, 2014 at 4:45 am

    Timbuktu Bookstore at 3601 East Ocean View Ave Norfollk, VA is still open but only opens on Saturday and Sunday 12pm-7pm.

    • April 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      I know the store and actually visited it a couple of years ago. The store is in my database and was flagged as closed. Their website stopped working. But that should not have been cause for the store to have been removed — that was a mistake thanks @angeliaj

  • April 4, 2014 at 4:49 am

    Truth and Knowledge Bookstore at 645 Church St Norfolk, VA is a black owned bookstore that I didn’t see on any of your list.

    • April 7, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      @angeliaj I’m gonna need a bit more help with this one. I can’t find any primary information about this bookstore. The closest I could find to a website was this site: which, once you browse around looks like it has been hijacked 🙁 A phone number would be most helpful — thanks for you time and effort.

  • April 4, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Troy…Does your book of the week include picture book and young adult novels for our school-aged readers? Many times students are asked to being books to school from home and you’d be surprised and horrified to see how many girls come with Zane books and others like that. When the time comes for these students to engage on conversation around their books, our students are on the short end because the content of what they’ve brought cannot be shared, nor can the teacher engage in one-on-one conferencing.

    • April 6, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      @Tanji our current book “The Harlem Hellfighters” is a graphic novel about the first African-American regiment to fight in World War One. It is priced lower than Amazon too! The boo will change tomorrow but there are a a variety of titles offered.

  • April 4, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Thank you Mr. Johnson for this article which is an alert and and action call. It’s difficult for black businesses (or any for that matter) to thrive when there’s a lack of support within the local/national communities. It’s a combination of things contributing to that such as simply not being aware of a bookstore in your community/city. People are so distracted its easy to miss something wonderful like a bookstore. Those who do not at least have a web page are doing themselves a disservice, because now, the majority of the time we want to look up information about a product/service, we go to the Internet. Also, I think one of the main factors in the decline in bookstores in general is due to the mass move to digital readership (Kindle, Nook, tablets, etc.) with purchases being made through online suppliers like Amazon. The ones who have made themselves in to a bookstore/coffee house are using good strategy as that helps give a personal experience and respite you can’t get from buying online.

    • April 7, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      Thanks for the kind words @idellahashlie:disqus.

      I’m not sure the final chapter on eBooks has been written. The data I’ve collected and seen from other sources suggest that eBook adoption has slowed and may have level off. As I write this I’m sitting in a bookstore. I purchased a food, coffee and even a book and impulse buy of Stephen Hawkin’s “The Illustrated A Brief History of Time & The Universe in a Nutshell” I’d actually previously read “A Brief History of Time” but brought this version because of the illustrations and the discounted price. If you saw the book you would also see that an electronic version would simply not be as compelling.

  • April 4, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I’m from Detroit also Blackstar Community Bookstore 7 mile…Respect for the article….SMH!!

    • April 7, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      @Dr. Embry can you help me out an provide a bit more information about this store. A website address (I can not find one) or a phone number (the one I found in a business directory, 313-863-2665, was disconnected). Thanks.

  • April 4, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    One of the things that I think gets seriously overlooked when we consider the ramifications of what is being missed in all of this is the target audience for which many of these store are opened for; African Americans. Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that fewer African Americans read, in comparison to every other ethnic group. Let’s consider the fact that even within the African American community, even fewer who do read are focused on Ethnocentric themes. That’s a real niche market. Then, also consider the fact that there has for quite some time, for whatever reason, been little support from African Americans of black owned businesses. These are hard truths to face.

    You can argue the point that other ethnic groups support their own, and you’d be right; but you’d be overlooking the fact that they did not face many of the hardships that have caused our community to either distrust or preference shopping elsewhere. What you’d also be overlooking is that while many of the other ethnic groups do circulate money within their community, many do not isolate themselves from servicing just their own community. With such a niche market, it is a far fetched notion that it can survive on support from within its own community.

    Yes, be angry that there is no one crying out about this, but also recognize that bookstores in general are suffering due to changing technology, economy, and social awareness. If many of these places don’t adjust, the community will have essentially silenced itself.

    • April 7, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to share you thoughts @apreachaskid:disqus. You raise a bunch of important points.

      I don’t want to suggest that Black owned stores are just for Black readers or even Black books. Indeed, I don’t think they should be. But the Black owned stores are the ones most likely to carry a variety of titles written by Black writers. Even profiles white writers Jack Ezra Keats (, Howard Zinn (, etc.

      The loss of Black owned stores has dramatically impacted the numbers of places where readers can discover books by written by Black writers, who are most likely to incorporate Black characters, stories and information important to our community.

      I also do not want to imply that Black writers should write only about Black people or Ethoncentric themes. Jason Mott, a Black author whose book, “The Returned” was recently recommended on this Blog contains only one Black character:

      So I do not recommend that Black owned bookstores limit themselves to serving just the Black community, for much of what Black writers produce would appeal to a audience beyond Black folks.

      Honestly the bookstore issue and the lack of outcry is really symptomatic of much more profound problems that have little to do with technology, the economy and social awareness…

      I agree completely with your conclusion that our community, if it does not adjust, will be silenced.

      I’d take it a step farther and say that our voice HAS essentially been silenced because we no longer control our voice. THIS is why the community has been silent about the virtual extinction of Black owned bookstores. The powers that be are perfectly happy with Black books only being available for purchase online from Amazon–and judging by the way we behave we appear to want it that way too.

    • January 7, 2015 at 9:31 am

      While I don’t doubt that we should read more than we do, I would be careful about throwing around phrases like: “fewer African Americans read, in comparison to every other ethnic group.” unless research has actually been done to this effect. Too often we assume that more affluent groups are just generally more intellectual, when that is often not the case. We assume that there is some great intellectual ideal that we do not live up to. As the article noted, readership is low across groups.

      • January 7, 2015 at 2:19 pm

        @victorbradley:disqus, you are right. In fact the data actually does not support the statement, “fewer African Americans read, in comparison to every other ethnic group.” I’ve aggregated a few studies from the NEA in this article:

        Now the fact that we don’t less than any other group does not mean they we have no cause of serious concern. We do.

        • January 8, 2015 at 9:36 am

          Thx for the data, in the wake of that comment I went in search of some and came up wanting. Of course there is cause for concern, an oppressed people always has a desperate need for knowledge and even those of us who do read must not fall into the trap of only reading for fun. Reading romance novels does not make one an intellectual, we must read to learn, grow and strategize. That said, we are often too quick to essentialize every less than desirable trait we find among our people as a Black pathology. From the media, you would think that most White people are sitting around quoting Shakespeare at each other while we just grunt and play basketball. I suspect, that a lot of the “lack of intellectualism” we see among Black folks come from several loci: One, White culture is intellectualized while Black culture is primitivized. With the exception of Jazz, no Black cultural expression is considered to be a mark of high culture and thus indicative of intelligence. Moreover, I know Black people who unthinkingly cite Nirvana as “high culture” and DMX as “low culture” even though they are objectively on the same “cultural level.” When one’s culture of speech and art are constructed as superior, it’s easy to appear intelligent. Two: class, the White intellectual class is very small and restricted to the more well off. If you divide the White intellectual class by six, in a perfect world you would get the Black intellectual class. But in the real world, we must divide still more to account for the fact that we’re disproportionately poor, and therefore disproportionately unlikely to have the luxury which is conducive (not necessary or sufficient, but conducive) to intellectual habits. I worry that too often we buy into the White man’s caricatures of the Black community, or heed his call to see in all our circumstances an underlying Black pathology.

          • January 8, 2015 at 10:24 am

            Where have you been hiding @victorbradley:disqus? I enjoyed that last comment and could expand and support your thoughts with a bazillion anecdotes.

            Here is something else to consider. I’ve been contributing content to the world wide web, through this website, for going on 18 years. The biggest change I’ve seen online in the last decade is that content associated with Black negative behavior gets far more attention than virtually anything we do that is positive. Even this article, speaking about the closing of Black bookstores, was one of the most popular articles I wrote all year.

            Now here is the kicker, the commercialization of the internet and the lack of Black ownership actually contributes to making this the case. The very nature of what Black content is popular on the web is a direct function of white racism. I’ve written quite a bit about this, check out this article:

            I don’t call out racism in the article, but that is exactly what the article is illustrates. I don’t mean to suggest there is a hooded Klansman deciding what is published online, but our lack of control results in very little difference.

  • April 6, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Off The Beaten Path Bookstore in Farmington, MI is also owned by a Sister.

  • April 9, 2014 at 12:19 am

    hi there, Reflections is no longer opened….I knew the owner quite well…

  • April 10, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I don’t feel sorry for any business owner that doesn’t know his/her patrons. Even BN almost got caught out there. I was commenting on a status the other day – and I learned what readers (our peers) look for when they buy books – Oddly enough the status talked about the Amazon settlement on ebooks… each person talked about what they would do with their settlement. From that one conversation I learned who buys the most ebooks – who buys paper books and how they make their decision on books to buy… As a bookseller/publisher/novelist – that conversation was eye-opening! I immediately used the information and sold a few books.

    I could imagine you could even be in the bookselling business if you wanted to do fulfillment. I actually purchased a hardcover based on your recommendation. I think I clicked through your link to purchase from Amazon – but I would have much rather purchased it directly from you… Even if you sold, resold hard to find black out-of-print/rare books – it would enhance your business model – wait…if you don’t do that I think I just might on my ebay account

    • April 13, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Hi @melhopkins2012:disqus you raise some good points. I’ve sold books many different ways including; shipping them myself; having other independent entities fulfill the orders; and through a number of affiliate programs including, Indie Bound, B&N and of course Amazon.

      Fulfilling order directly ( ships the orders) is labor and resource intensive; storage, allowances for loses, manpower, shipping are issues I’m not interested in dealing with, so I’m perfectly happy earning commissions while having another entities fulfill the orders.

      The relativity of the situation is that people overwhelming buy from Amazon when given a choice. When I don’t present a choice and just offer a non-amazon entity ordering rates are lower. fulfills the orders on my best-selling books website, The Power List: I hate to say orders are MUCH lower than when I used Amazon. Despite that I’m sticking with MahoganyBooks, the decision is not solely business driven it is mission driven, if you know what I mean.

      My demographic was slower to gain access to the internet, slower to order online, and will be slower to move away from ordering only from big corporate sites ordering from indie, Black-owned businesses. But I hope our demographic begins to support the independent entities more. If not we will lose all the indie Black-owned bookstores not just the physical stores but the online ones as well.

      Selling rare out of print books is really a different kind of business than the one that I’m in. As you suggest it is one anyone with an E-bay account can engage in.

      Please share a link the the site where learned about the consumer buying habits. Also include a link to information about your books too 🙂

      • April 15, 2014 at 2:51 pm

        I thought I already replied to this response -but I cannot find it! If this a duplicate, I apologize.

        as I was reading your response a few things popped into my mind…

        1- Thank you! How kind of you to suggest that I
        include a link to my books. As a passive marketer, I wondered, since a
        few of us who comment here are also author/booksellers how cool would it be if when we signed in to comment; our book widgets ( or any retail website you are an affiliate) would pop up next to us… sort of like how my disqus gravatar links to my comment. A click through of that sort is a win for both us. But for now –

        2- I agree it would be a loss to the black community
        if any independently owned retail store closed but it would especially hard if black independent bookstores would go by the way of the dodo

        As a result, however, in the digital age, would secure its position as the clearinghouse for all things Black literary and Pop fiction. It would also cement its spot as the go-to website for breaking Af-Am lit news, commentary
        and community events.

        I actually open and scan my AALBC Newsletter each month. It is my connection to staying in the loop and current in the black literary world. I’m just waiting for a gossip section so I can really feel in the mix with Black Literati.
        Btw, this is my first time reading about . Thanks for the heads up.

        3. “The dream” booksellers’
        conversation about how we decide to buy books happened on a mutual friend’s FB
        page. It isn’t public –

        Here’s a summary – 6 women 1 man (Professional degrees, college educated, maybe middle-class middle-aged group) received
        a grand total of 51.00 in eBook settlement money from amazon – now of course that looks like about $7 refund per person if you average it – but
        really the settlement ranged from .78 to 25.87 – The one who got the largest settlement bought the most books, of course
        but one woman says she subscribes to sites that send her daily email on how to get free books ; another woman said she hates to pay full price for books so she uses coupons, discounts, sales and gift cards to buy books. This insight into the pleasure-reading book buying public was priceless to me.

  • April 16, 2014 at 12:02 am

    Thank you so much for this much needed information. I am seriously thinking about opening a bookstore in McDonough, GA. Will definitely keep you posted.

    • December 8, 2015 at 12:13 am

      who da fuk is dat nigga?

  • April 30, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Thanks so much for this informative article. There is a Black Owned Bookstore in Camden, NJ called “La Unique”.

  • June 27, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Bookstore and REAL-FM radio station in Greenville, SC

  • June 27, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    ATTENTION—-> there is a book store / cultural center in Greenville, South Carolina with a real FM Radio Station (WMXP 95.5 FM)—>The Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination Located at 321 W. Atrium Drive, P.O. Box 16102. (864) 239-0470. operated by Efia Nwangaza since 1991. Email: / . . . .
    [that’s me and Efia in photo at radio station and the film viewing room in the center].

  • June 27, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    @AALBC:disqus and @apreachaskid:disqus . . . .Troy’s video and store closing facts are a HUGE wake up call–PERIOD! . . .A major book retailer recently closed [BOOKS-A-MILLION] and what was funny is that their regional center REJECTED my history/genealogy book–HOWEVER–my book still wound up in their on-line store! Also, all major retail store web sites, Kindle, Apple iBooks, etc.

    LARGE black-owned bookstores with lecture spaces, etc. are PRICELESS community assets that must be preserved along with the African-American museums that are alternate author platforms for “our stories”. . . .FORTUNATELY, my book is a multi-media project that includes a supplementary “museum exhibit” which opens other author platforms like museums, libraries, etc.

  • June 29, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Understand the article upon heritage specialized. Bookstores I can were are French language stores. USA it’s popularity and subject matter. Clarification when travel or reside. France we seldom discus former history. Tried of Americans chatter on bygone.
    Era’s especially 18th century not. Ideal conversation due economic times. France presently also before those say. Corporate influence cause the demise. Admit to yourself Blacks never supported. Merchant class due interference of main stream. Companies since Blacks not middle class. Figure interest level your literary. Consumer don’t pre assumption or suppose. To identify with heritage Hip hop.

    And lack understanding of literary Becoming laminate in perception we. Can’t face logic down anyone. Interest oppose sports,insecurity and music. Attractions so called African displays. Bias to majority never understood. False association with Africa never. Support economically the region demise. Due to lack of interest merchants. Refusing sell 25% current titles pay. The bills mention heritage. Books stores usually appeal students. Studies the majority good luck. Refuse change literary times. Be remembered as Marcus Books. Demanding to remain even they. Reopen going fail subject matters. Only few care about literature. So many Blacks signing publishing. Deals foreign companies enjoy. Arabella Kisesbauer renowned journalist Austria and Germany. Dual citizenship from Ghana writing. Sick of exclusive commerce Blacks.
    America don’t acknowledge elements African. Culture shame Hip hop destroy them.

  • December 5, 2014 at 1:12 am

    The Nation Of Islam probably have 20 Black owned Book stores (Respect For Life) across America. I know of On Nostrand Ave in Brooklyn and One In Chicago West 79th Street near the Salaam Restaurant.

    • December 5, 2014 at 6:58 am

      Thanks again Sylvester. This is not the first time I’ve heard that the National had a chain of Bookstores. I’m not having much look getting much more detail than you’ve provided. I freely admit my resource constraints are part of the problem I need to research these stores and collect all the information I need to add them. I just reached out to a Brother I know in the Nation that I hope will help me.

      I also have to have to confirm all the information I’m provided. I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me about a store that I was opened only to later learn that the store was actually closed. Then of course I have to periodically check the list. I can guarantee you that there is a store on the list above that has closed, but I have not had a opportunity to update the information.

      I definitely appreciate you taking the time to provide me with additional information and support. Peace.

  • December 5, 2014 at 1:15 am

    Also Best Seller Bookstore 43 Main St, Hempstead, NY 11550

  • January 7, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Great article, you’ve left our Alkebulan books in Nashville TN. It is struggling, even though it is between two HBCUs.

    • January 7, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Hi @victorbradley:disqus thanks for taking the time to point out this missing store. I’m actually familiar with Alkebulan. It has always been in my database: However, last March, I was unable to confirm that the store was still open. I see now that they have a website too I have updated my database with the new information and added Alkebulan to the list above — thanks again!

  • February 4, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    I live in Little Rock Arkansas I am very interested i opening a used African spirituality metaphysics bookstore. But I have no idea how to start. If you havr any advice or tips I would appreciate it.

    • February 6, 2015 at 8:05 am

      My gut tells me to discourage you. But if it is really something you want to do, I would start by determining if there is a big enough demand for used African spirituality book on metaphysics, in Little Rock. How much can you expect to make on a sale of a book, how many books can you reasonable expect to sell, would that cover your expenses? That seems unlikely, but you can do the research and find out if there is enough demand to warrant a business.

      Perhaps you can add additional revenue streams; can you teach African metaphysics, and some how expand on the entire concept and figure way to make your store more of a African metaphysical experience. You could tell related items and the like. Maybe you can start out small, in your home to gauge demand and build up a customer base. I would certainly create a website to start you can start writing about the subject and expand you potential audience beyond Little Rock, and sell product on line.

      Whatever you decide, good luck! When you open send me your details and I’ll help spread the word. Peace.

  • August 1, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    This is an excellent post and a valuable source of information. I thank all who worked on this list for their hard work and efforts!

    • August 2, 2015 at 11:58 am

      Thanks @disqus_ZCNpFOzwLQ:disqus for taking the time to share the words of encouragement. The same thing has happened to on-line bookstores as well. Sadly as little attention that has been paid to the loss of Black owned physical bookstore, even less has been paid to their own line counter parts. The entire Black book ecosystem as been adversely impacted. We have to actively chose to support what remains, of what we own–even if it means going out of you way, or paying a bit more.

      We have to invest in our own business; otherwise Amazon will own this space, from publishing to sales. What we get to read will be driven completely by them, which will not serve us very well. Sorry to rant, but situation is getting worse…

      • August 2, 2015 at 12:18 pm

        Not a rant at all, and no need to apologize. It’s true that even if books on black culture are available through Amazon, they’re lumped in with the entire inventory and harder to find. I went through your entire list, and, sadly, a few more stores have closed (although it could be my misread of google, so I don’t want to say which ones). Others did something clever: they broadened their business model to include things like African candles and soaps, African art, and DVDs featuring black artists. The stores that “moved forward” this way and got with these “spa treatment”, “home theater” times were smart to do so. They’re thriving.
        Great discussion. Important topic.

        • August 2, 2015 at 1:38 pm

          What makes this list hard to maintain is that it is a 100% manual effort, there is no feed, no other resource; as far as I know this is it. To maintain this list I have to make phone calls and visit the stores. You can’t even rely on the store’s website, as many stores allow these to lapse or simply do not have one. Some create Facebook pages as their web presence (another mistake in my opinion). I don’t have the resources to check the list as frequently as I’d like to, but over these years the effort has become less difficult for sadly obvious reasons.

          If you would email me the names of those stores you suspect have closes, I’ll follow with those.

          Yeah many stores have expanding their offerings. A store I was particularly fond of in Dallas, Black Images Book Bazaar (they’ve closed) framed artwork. but when you entered the store it was clearly a business that sold books.

          At some point however you cease being a bookstore, particularly when books make up a very small percentage of the store’s product offerings and when that inventory is very thin or does not include new titles. Many of the stores on this list fall into that category, but I have not removed them as they still can use our support. With that support many they will be in a position to expand their inventory.

          I think that is a better use of our financial resources compared to handing it over to Amazon–who has more money than they know what do with.

  • August 13, 2015 at 3:36 am

    I am African and I live in Africa. I personally love reading and I particularly like reading books about the African American experience – it resonates so well with many of our own struggles in Africa and kindles many powerful emotions and bonds. My dream is to start a bookstore in my home city, Kampala, Uganda. It is sad that so many African American bookstores are closing but I couldn’t help thinking about what happens to the stock in these libraries when they close. I cannot think of a better place for some of those books to be than in my dream bookstore. There is a relatively small but rapidly growing market and we are still at least 10-15 years behind the online book boom. Would anyone know how I could contact some of the bookstore owners to see if we can work out something?

    • October 25, 2015 at 9:40 am

      Tom when I learn about a store closing, it usually has been closed from some time and the owners contact information is no longer valid. In some case I have been able to reach contact the owned of closed stores and I’ll report on what I have on the list above with a link that says “What Happened” Here is the link of Azizi books:

      In general how do would you cover the cost of packaging and shipping the books? I doubt the store owner would cover the cost.

      • November 23, 2015 at 4:19 am

        Hi. I totally missed this response- I am so excited to get it. I love books but if I opened a bookstore, it would definitely have to at least cover its costs in the medium term. I would definitely pay the costs of packaging and shipping (but of course I am talking partly out of ignorance…maybe it would be too prohibitive). The way I see it, this would partially take the pain out of making choices about my first
        stock – whether it would appeal to an African clientele (and there is a growing one!!!) is another matter but at least I would like to consider that choice

        • November 23, 2015 at 9:34 am

          Maybe someone, with books to donate, will read this message and reach out to you. Good luck with your store.

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  • October 23, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    The 1 bookstore that was in Alabama closed about 3 or 4 years ago. Broke my heart. It was called Expansion Books in Huntsville, AL.

  • November 2, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    Children of the Sun is where I get my books…I get a couple at Sankofa as well

  • December 8, 2015 at 12:11 am

    how many of you can actually read though?

  • January 4, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    Best Books Rich Treasures is an African American Owned and Operated Antiquarian Bookstore in business since 1997. We are currently located in Tampa, Florida and have been at this location for two years. We also have an online store at and a genealogy blog at One of our owners, Gigi is genealogist and author from Camden, NJ and her husband and co-owner, Skip, is a disabled vet and native of Florida. We specialize in African Diaspora titles and sell New, Used and Rare Books. We ship worldwide.

    Thanking you in advance if you would include us in your bookstore list.

    Gigi Best

  • January 5, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    I’m actually looking to open an African-American owned bookstore within the year, and happened across this site while doing research. Is there anyone on here who might be willing to assist with some information that I might need to begin? I actually want to turn it into a chain if all goes well.

    • January 5, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      I do hope some of the bookstore owners chime in. Based upon my observations the if you own the facility housing your bookstore you’ll have a much better prospect of long term survival. I would also analyze the market you plan to open your store what are the demographics of the population, are they likely to have disposable income? Are there competitive bookstores in the area (not necessarily a bad thing)? How are those stores doing? Can you add something different? These are all typical things (and much more) you would consider for any business, but these basic things seem to be ignored. Sometimes the simple answer is that a bookstore may not be a viable option in your situation.

      Many say you need to open a cafe, sell related products and so forth. You can carry this to an extreme and at some point you stop being a bookstore… If you can turn someone onto a great book they enjoy–especially if they would not have discovered it anywhere else they’ll come back.

      Good luck!

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  • February 15, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    It will be interesting to see what the impact of Amazon’s Brick and mortar stores will be.

  • March 20, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    Hey I’m looking for an asiatic owned book metaphysical store with a strong online presence? I suggest books on my site, and would like someone more worthy to link to thank Amazon <3.

    Must carry mainstream books as well, as I link not just to asiatic written & related books.

    Light & Love

    • March 21, 2016 at 6:23 am

      Here is a link to a list of online bookstore several of them also operate stores: I think Black and Noble might be you best bet, but there are many others to consider.

      While links to Amazon (hard to get people to buy any other way) We also link to Independent Bookstores which represents independent booksellers. I used to link to B&N but they keep changing their affiliate program. I also considered drop shipping from Ingram and even shipping directly, but again, people will only buy from Amazon.

  • March 20, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    If the bookstores above have online stores, can you link to them? If they don’t have online stores, can we help them have them?

    Light + Love.

  • April 10, 2016 at 9:07 am

    There are a few books most folks have not read.
    Devils in America and Who are God’s Children are great and every African American should read these. Very informative

  • July 16, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Thanks so much for this information I am a self published author who has a magazine and my own novel out and I’m working on the 2nd issue of my magazine and the my second book. So thanks for doing the because I love in North Carolina and I have yet to find a Urban bookstore here.

  • November 16, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    There is a need to add our African (AfRaKan) Bookstore to the list… CULTURAL FREEDOM BOOKSTORE …we’ve been in business since 2001, formerly under the name HALL OF KNOWLEDGE BOOKSTORE since 1990, originally at 1322 B Shaw Road, Fayetteville, North Carolina 28311 up until 2011, then we moved to 2188 White Oak Road, Kelly, North Carolina 28448. Thank you!

    • November 28, 2016 at 10:27 am

      Congrats on the store Dr. El-Bey. Please post or forward a photograph of the front of the store or the inside of the store showing books for sale that we can use on the website–thanks.

  • April 24, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Is there a mailing list to reach out to all stores at once?

    • May 5, 2017 at 7:01 am

      Sorry Daaim, a list is not made available. I don’t want to make it easy for the clubs to be spammed.

  • June 27, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Hey Tony,

    Thanks for making this list and congrats on your award for your many years of service. I am working on a few things and will stay in touch.

    • June 28, 2017 at 6:52 am

      Thanks for the kind words Tyree! Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Peace.

  • August 13, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    I stumbled upon your website in the process of doing a bit of research. Glad I found AALBC. Looking forward to first learning and then second engaging with community.

    As for the state of our book stores–unfortunately, our “anything we do” seems to be suffering these days. But! I’m going to persist in taking a positive mindset in regard to our economic standing. That’s not to say that no one else is just sharing my thoughts here.
    We can do whatever we put are minds to. Historically speaking, quite a few folk have managed to pull “it” off and did so under extreme circumstances. I’m not saying that it will be easy but if it’s one thing our people are…it’s “determined.” We’ve proven that over and over again expressed in many disciplines and through various venues. We are strong survivors.

    Take me for example – I am just discovering what my passions are and I’m 56 years old! It’s very embarrassing but I cannot dwell on that. I have made up my mind to not only support but to serve my community in whatever way is practical and balanced. I need to gain so much more knowledge and I often have to fight off that feeling of being overwhelmed by the time that has passed and the time that I have left in which to accomplish my goals and dreams.

    Nevertheless, I’m pressing on and as I learn of the various undertakings and endeavors of my people then I will readjust my patronage accordingly. thanks for taking the time to read my post and have a peaceful one.

    • August 13, 2017 at 9:15 pm

      Thanks for the kind words. It is, of course, never too late to discover and pursue your passion 🙂

  • September 2, 2017 at 10:04 am

    This individual who wrote this article did a disservice to the real truth as to why black book stores are so few and far between – it is simply the fact that blacks do not read books as much as their contemporaries…whites and Asians. If you do a study which has been done, blacks are the less likely to have a library card, a newspaper subscription – whether online or a physical paper, and blacks are less inclined to have a private library of books in their home.

    • September 3, 2017 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks @disqus_LuZScTQZmw:disqus, please share a link to the study you referenced–thanks!

        • September 5, 2017 at 10:32 am

          Hi @disqus_LuZScTQZmw:disqus I’m familiar with Sowell’s work. All of his books are on this site: I’ve two or three myself. But I don’t recall him drawing any conclusions about the dearth of Black owned bookstores.

          Still, do you think Black people are reading fewer books than we did just 15 years ago when the number of Black owned bookstores numbered in the hundreds? Can you not think any other exogenous factors that might contribute reduction in the number of independently owned bookstores?

          • September 5, 2017 at 4:00 pm

            Sowell doesn’t make the conclusion of the death of Black owned bookstores is due to blacks not reading…I make the conclusion. Education and reading is not a top priority for blacks in general. Sports is more of a priority to blacks….entertainment by way of rapping and dancing….social activism is more of a priority to blacks than education and reading. Though education and reading will move blacks and anyone closer to their goals a lot quicker.

            Give you a great example to ponder. Name me five black scientist or inventors of the late 20th, 21st century…but you can name me 20-50 black NFL and NBA players off the bat.

            The Black owned bookstores have of course been in predominately black areas…if those black areas are not reading then the book stores have no customers to sell to in the immediate area.

          • September 5, 2017 at 5:11 pm

            Sure there are some in the Black community do not view education as a priority. However this is not condition limited only to Black people; it is a function of culture and class.

            I bet if you asked anyone to name 5 NBA players and five scientists they would find it easier to name the professional athletes, but our culture celebrates athletes for it a lot easier for corporations to profit off them

            Poor people could work their way out of poverty with a good education, but they are the one denied this opportunity for the schools in the neighborhoods are often terrible. Sure the parents should compensate for bad schools, but they are often ill-educated themselves and are too busy trying to survive to to be of much assistance.

            As a bookseller I know first hand people have been trained, for example, to buy books from Amazon. I offer can autographed copy of a book priced less than what Amazon sells an autographed copy for and people will still buy from Amazon. Plus the fact that Amazon can sell books at a loss while indie bookseller much generate profit is also a major factor.

            The issues are more complex than you have portrayed them. However I will grant you that if reading valued more, or at least as much as swiping through a social media feed, there probably would be more viable bookstores and we’d be richer culturally.

          • September 6, 2017 at 7:44 am

            Troy if you live in the Washington DC metro area we should meet for coffee…I have completely different views about blacks in America than say 90%-95% of most people. As you and many others would like to see blacks as inferior, subconsciously of course, I view blacks as being completely able to compete with all their contemporaries; white, Asian, Hispanic, and other wise.

            It is the embracing of the “black culture” (which was made up out of the 1960’s) and the rejection of “American culture” that has caused blacks to be in this current state of failure as a group….whites or institutions have nothing to do with the Negro problem going on right now. Every group of people that comes to America and embraces the American culture, within 5 to 10 years, progresses forward in education, and financial prosperity. Blacks fail to do so because they dont want to follow the order of American traditions.

            Of course current day blacks will attempt to state the reason for their shortcomings is slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation. But I would turn every living black Americans’ attention to Booker T. Washington, who did more in his short life with insurmountable odds against him than most blacks will ever do with all the luxuries and creature comforts at their fingertips. And Professor Washington is not a one-off…there are countless examples of blacks in the past that have accomplished great and mighty things under slavery, JC, and segregation. So there is absolutely no excuse for current day blacks. Institutional racism existed back then, but there is no institutional racism or racism period that can keep a black from being whatever they desire in life….Barack Hussein Obama being the best example. If there was institutional racism, Obama would have never been elected – for whites are 73 percent of the American population…blacks are too small of a voting pool to elect anyone in or out of office. Racism is just an excuse blacks use for their complacency and laziness.

            And about corporations profiting off of athletes…do you think John Hopkins profited off the great neurological doctor Ben Carson? Or are publishing houses profiting off of Dr. Sowell’s and Condoleezza Rice’s books? Just a thought.

            Blacks can make all the excuses in the world as to their current plight, but this will only keep them in their situation forever.

          • September 6, 2017 at 9:46 am

            I don’t think you views about Black people are that unique, I suspect most folks who share your perspective aren’t inclined to express those sentiments them publicly. Yeah coffee would be great but I’m not the the DC area. You should however consider joining our discussion forum. You obviously have a perspective, can express it articulately, and are not afraid to converse with those who might disagree. You probably would enjoy the conversations. I’d like to carry this conversation over to our forums: I’ll post my reply there. Either way thanks for sharing your thoughts here!

          • September 6, 2017 at 10:15 am

            Thanks for the invite. And I will forward you a copy of my book coming out in the latter part of next month.

          • September 7, 2017 at 1:16 pm

            Troy, I am waiting for your approval on your discussion site. As for my book, I will most likely be labeled by many blacks and the media as public enemy #1 “the most hated black man in America”, but the book will be a gift and a wake up call to blacks. And I will forward you a copy.

            As for this issue with the dearth of black owned book stores, I want to be very respectful of your views, but more so I want to be very very real about the current and on going situation with black Americans.

            Black Americans are failing in almost every aspect of America life, with the exception of sport (football and basketball) and entertainment (singers). Which if you remember it was the Irish-Americans that owned both of those industries before blacks came to prominence in those fields. But in education…blacks fail…and fail horribly. If blacks do get a college degree it is mostly in something generic like Business Admin, Education, or the Social Sciences. Blacks as a group are not seeking hard sciences like Economics, Physics, Mathematics, Accounting, Chemistry, or Architecture. If you look at the hard sciences they require a excellence understanding math, some to the level of trigonometry & calculus, and a lot of reading, analytical skills, and deductive reasoning. Which if you look at national education study surveys, blacks are the most behind in math and reading compared to whites, Asians, Indians for India, and Hispanics are starting to catch up and past blacks – news article of this this are all over the place.


            Another example is Maryland has 24 school district counties, and they are all ranked. PG County and Baltimore City school districts which are predominantly black ranks 23rd and 24th, respectively – both the lowest.


            This evidence leads to why your book stores are dying out…not because of Amazon.

            And just to show you what Amazon thinks of black people, instead of promoting blacks to read more…Amazon instead clearly understands blacks hate reading and prefer to sit on their butts and watch TV all day and get welfare subsidizes. Amazon Prime is focused of capturing black welfare audiences by lowering their yearly subscription and providing the new Prime series “Brown Sugar”…all the blaxploitation” films you can muster under one roof.


            And you can’t blame Amazon…they are just providing something that the majority of blacks crave…entertainment through sight.

            The Black book stores are dinosaurs to the blacks in America. And I jokingly say this to you Troy, but you are a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

  • December 2, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Georgia Blackmon owns one in Pensacola fl

  • December 4, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I expect there will be a lot more readers coming out of generation z, I do not think there are too many millennials that enjoy reading, I have noticed this all across the board, it doesn’t matter what ethnicity, they are just about all non-readers, most would rather abbreviate on their smart phones and a lot do not know who to spell, maybe that has something to do with the lower bookstore findings. I find it alarming that there are so many few black bookstore owners, there are so few bookstores as it is and finding one takes effort at times.

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