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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 to Save the Black Book Industry?

Would You Boycott Amazon“Would You Stop Buying Books from to Save the Book Industry?”Ruth J. Morrison, CEO and Executive Producer, What’s The 411TV; and 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 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 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 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

Troy Johnson Founder and WebmasterDear Reader,

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

Peace & Love,
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Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster,

Our newsletter may be read on your Kindle ebook reader or read via RSS. Consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing. eNewsletter – November 28, 2017 – Issue #251


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.