Category Archives: African-American

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

We Must Patronize Black-Owned Websites or Lose Them

The Top 50 Black-Owned Websites

Part of AALBC.com’s mission is to help support Black-owned websites.  Historically, I’ve focused on sites related to books including, publisher sites, authors sites, and even other bookseller sites. I support other booksellers, because no single site can possibly cover all the great Black books available, and each site brings a unique perspective to how they cover Black books.

As the number of large Black-owned websites that cover Black books began to decrease, I expanded the scope of websites that I supported to include Black-Owned Magazines and Black-Owned Newspapers. While newspapers and magazines do not cover Black books as deeply, or as frequently, as a dedicated book site would, they still are important platforms for Black writers and their books.

Black People are not profiting from the great wealth generated on the web.Many of our Black-owned newspaper and magazine websites began publishing less original content or shutting down.  So I decided to open up my support to include even the largest Black-owned sites.  In 2013, I compiled a list of the top 10 sites and called it the crude but traffic generating name, “The 10 Best Damn Black Websites Period!

I discovered during my research many of the most popular websites focused on Black culture were not Black-owned. It became clear, Black people are not profiting from the great wealth generated on the web—even when the content is directly related to Black culture.

Perhaps worse, I found the most frequently visited websites owned by Black people were enjoying great success by providing very salacious, celebrity driven content.  Comments in reaction to an article in Black Enterprise celebrating the success of one such site, MediaTakeOut, illustrates this point:

“Black Enterprise should be embarrassed to do a story praising this man [MediaTakeOut’s Founder,  Fred Mwangaguhunga] like he is some type of role model for the black community. Did you even look at his website before writing this article? It is extremely racist against white people, very degrading to black people, homophobic, and constantly making fun of people. I don’t know when publishing this type of offensive trash on a low budget website became worthy of so much praise, or how the lies on his site can be considered “celeb news”. Black Enterprise just lost a lot of credibility and better realize that Media Take Out is an embarrassment to black people.”

“When I think of minstrel websites such as MTO, BlackPlanet, BET, and WorldStarHip (actually, all of their clones, quite frankly), and the collective devastating effects of ZIP COONERY on our people, I think of the UNCF slogan: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

These comments were not cherry picked to make my point but are reflective of the overall reaction to the article, (Black Enterprise, June 21, 2011, “Former Lawyer Succeeds Online as Man Behind MediaTakeOut”).

Black Enterprise

MediaTakeOut is not alone.  In fact, as far I can tell, Worldstar Hip Hop, is the most frequently visited Black-owned website, but their content is arguably even more prurient than MediaTakeOut’s.

Fortunately, the World Wide Web is vast and there is plenty of room for all types of websites. However, because of the dominance exerted by a handful of extremely powerful corporations, independent, Black-owned websites that produce serious content are crowded out and are effectively rendered undiscoverable.

As a result, when it comes to informing Black people of important issues, determining how Black people are portrayed in the media, and sharing in the wealth that is created on the web, Black people are largely excluded.

Some Black folks take great pride in our dominance of #blacktwitter, but no one mentions how little we profit from that activity or even asks how Twitter actually serves the Black community.  Many websites have turned to Facebook to bring visitors to their websites; they built large Facebook followings, only to have Facebook tell them that organic reach has ended, and that they must now must pay to reach the audience they worked so hard to build.

If we are to regain our agency and share more equitably in the revenue generated on the web, we must make this happen ourselves.  AALBC.com’s contribution is to help spread the word about hundreds of popular Black-owned websites as well as sharing detailed information about our Top 50 Black-Owned Websites.

We all can do something to help increase the influence, revenue, and quality of Black-owned websites. The solution is quite simple:

We Must Patronize Black-Owned Websites:

  • Identify one or two websites that you like and visit them regularly,
  • Leave comments on their articles and engage on their discussion forums,
  • Subscribe to their publications,
  • Send them feedback,
  • Buy their products, and
  • Share their content with others

The solution is not more engagement on social media—that just enriches social media at our expense. The solution will not come from government legislation—they are part of the problem and any potential solution will come after the damage has been done.

There is still a wealth of interesting content on the web. Indeed I trust AALBC.com is contributing to that wealth, but it will not continue if the current trends persist unabated. If we don’t determine what is important, then someone else will do it for us.

The power to increase Black ownership and control on the World Wide Web is in our hands. Lets use our power!

Bestselling Books, The Top 25 Black-Owned Sites, New Books, and More

eNewsletter September 2017

Bestselling Books July – August 2017

Fiction titles outsold all other genres this period, led by the strength of Sadeqa Johnson’s 2016 novel Second House from the Corner, which was the bestselling book of all. Nonfiction was the 2nd most popular genre, rebounding from weak sales in May and June of 2017. The bestselling nonfiction book was Ivan Van Sertima’s masterwork, They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America, which made our list for the 13th time since 1999! Children’s Book sales, continue to be strong with a nice mixture of new and classic titles with publication dates spanning a period of 50 years. Poetry sells each period for which we report, however sales were insufficient to compile a bestsellers for the genre.


Recommended Reads

We Were 8 Years in PowerWe Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates’s iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including “Fear of a Black President,” “The Case for Reparations,” and “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates’s own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era. We Were Eight Years in Power is a vital account of modern America, from one of the definitive voices of this historic moment.

If you are in the DC area Join Sankofa Bookstore as they present: Ta-Nehisi Coates Washington, DC’s Book Launch, October 9th.


Yardie by Victor HeadleyYardie by Victor Headley

A literary sensation in England, and originally published by X Press, Yardie introduces us to D., a tough, streetwise man from Jamaica who, using a falsified passport, enters London to deliver a kilo of cocaine to the Spicers, the ruling operation in cocaine distribution. D., knowing it could be his only chance for a break, steals half a kilo and runs out into a city he is entirely unfamiliar with, having only vague contacts from the life he left behind.

Actor Idris Elba will make his directorial debut in 2018 with a film version of this novel.

“Yardie was that noir novel that everyone read …[I’m] making a charismatic film. Yardie is to me what Goodfellas was to Martin Scorsese.” –Idris Elba


Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, Illustrated by Gordon C. JamesCrown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, Illustrated by Gordon C. James

“A fresh cut makes boys fly.”

The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices.

Check out more Children’s and YA literature coming out soon.


A Good Cry: What We Learn From Tears and Laughter by Nikki GiovanniA Good Cry: What We Learn From Tears and Laughter by Nikki Giovanni

As energetic and relevant as ever, Nikki now offers us an intimate, affecting, and illuminating look at her personal history and the mysteries of her own heart. Giovanni takes us into her confidence, describing the joy and peril of aging and recalling the violence that permeated her parents’ marriage and her early life. She pays homage to the people who have given her life meaning and joy: her grandparents, who took her in and saved her life; the poets and thinkers who have influenced her; and the students who have surrounded her.


Watch a Great Video of This Year’s Black Party

The video was created courtesy of The Tea, which is a terrific web series where books are the topic and women are the voice. The Tea joined us during our annual Black Pack Party this year and truly captured the spirit of our gathering. Check the Black Pack Party video. Learn more about The Tea at www.jointhetea.com


Children’s Africana Book Awards2017 Children’s Africana Book Awards

The Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA) are presented annually to the authors and illustrators of the best children’s and young adult books on Africa published or republished in the U.S. The awards were created by Africa Access and the Outreach Council of the African Studies Association (ASA) to encourage the publication and use of accurate, balanced children’s materials about Africa. The awards are presented in two categories: Young Children and Older Readers.

Also check out The Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA) Festival.


The Top 25 Black-Owned Websites

The Top 25 Black-Owned Websites

I have made it part of AALBC.com’s mission to help promote and uplift independent websites created by, and for, people of African descent. The Top 25 Black Owned SItes represent the most popular of almost 300 popular Black-owned websites considered for inclusion on this list. Be sure to help spread the word about, and visit, some of these great 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.


A Couple Recent Topics From Our Discussion Forum:

Move Over Nicki Minaj Make Way for Cardi B!
Read the lyrics below and watch the video also. Are the lyrics saying anything? How are females represented? Is it truly representing female empowerment? What is the language telling us and our children? What is the visual telling us and our children? Do you see any connection or relevance to E2E’s “The N-Word’s Multi-Layered Power Structure” video we shared with you a few weeks ago? What role do record and radio company executives play in the music we listen to? What about the artists – what guides their decision (money or artistry)? What do we as consumers and parents allow? Should we be more aware? What do you think is the ultimate impact globally of these lyrics and the image/visual? (What do you think?) —Courtesy of Educate2Empower

Black Men And Trump
“This ‘bend-the-knee’ fall-out is a legitimate news story that doesn’t die because it is so relevant. It doesn’t have to be hyped because it automatically inspires attention by virtue of being about something near and dear to the hearts of most Americans. And the fact that everybody seems to have an opinion on it is an indication of how it strikes a nerve in the population.” (What do you think?) —Cynique

Let us know what you think or start your own conversation. Participate anonymously (if you chose) without fear of your privacy being invaded or your personal information being sold to marketers.


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 the Mailing List

The following is the type of information you can expect in our new mailing list for authors and publishers:

Call for Literary Submissions for the 49th NAACP Image Awards
The official call for literary submission for the 49th NAACP Image Awards is now open. Visit the official Image Awards Submissions Portal to submit your book for consideration.


AALBC Prints Books!

AALBC Prints Books TeamWe provide book printing services to independent authors and publishers. We guarantee our results by providing a finished book for your review. Get a quote with our easy to use calculator for the most popular book sizes, including 5.5 x 8.5 and 6 x 9 paperback books.

We have teamed up with BCP Digital Printing, who like AALBC.com, have more than a two decades of experience. We also share their mission to provide you with friendly customer service, high quality results, expert advice, and competitive prices.

Edit 1st clients enjoy a 10% discount on top our already competitive prices and AALBC Prints Books’ customers get 15% off all AALBC.com’s services.


Let AALBC.com be your de facto official website

Authors are best served by maintaining their own websites. I have always assisted authors, as a courtesy, by serving as their de facto official website. Authors Martha Kennerson (marthakennerson.com) and Cavis Adams (cavisadams.com) have recently taken advantage of this free service by pointing their domains to their AALBC.com profile pages. If you are one of the more than 3,200 authors with a profile on AALBC.com and don’t have a website, just ask and we’ll take care of it. If you don’t have a profile on AALBC.com we can create one for you. Just follow the lead of accomplished writers like Elizabeth Nunez (elizabethnunez.com), as seen in the above graphic. Learn how to get started.


How a Book Goes from Writer to Reader in Traditional Publishing by Carol Taylor

  • How a Book Goes from Writer to Reader in Traditional Publishing by Carol TaylorThe writer writes a novel or a nonfiction book proposal.
  • The writer queries a literary agent with a query letter about his novel or his nonfiction book.
  • The agent expresses interest and asks to see the entire novel or the completed nonfiction book proposal.
  • The agent likes the work and agrees to represent the writer.

Read the rest of the article at Edit 1st.


Dear Reader,

Staring with our October eNewsletter, I’m going to remove information which is intended specifically for authors, publishers, or those interested in using AALBC.com to market their books.

The goal is to send readers newsletters more focused on books, authors, and related subjects. Troy, if there is something you’d like to see in our eNewsletter please email me directly.

As always, this website grows only because of your support. If you truly value and believe in supporting Black literature; please support AALBC.com by;

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 Logo
AALBC.com eNewsletter – September 27, 2017 – Issue #249