Tag Archives: Bookstores

March 1, 2017 Newsletter — Book Award Announcements, New Books, and More

New Book March 2017New Books Coming Out March 2017

Helene Cooper tells the amazing of story Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, leader of the Liberian women’s movement and the first democratically elected female president in African history in Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Early Sunday Morning, a picture book for young children, is the first book from Denene Millner Books, the new children’s line in partnership with Agate’s Bolden. Millner is also a parenting authority, editor, and a New York Times bestselling author.

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions is Adichie’s letter of response.

New York Times bestselling author Mary Monroe takes you on the ultimate twist-filled ride with the next installment of her her Lonely Heart, Deadly Heart series, Never Trust a Stranger.

Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke, a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, is back with a new collection of poetry, Map to the Stars.

Learn about these and other excellent new books coming out this month and in the coming months.


Coretta Scott King Award Winning Books AnnouncedCoretta Scott King Award Winning Books

CSK Award MedalOn January 31 the American Library Association announced the 2017 Coretta Scott King award-winning books. These awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.

All of the Coretta Scott King Award-winning books, since the award’s inception, may be found on AALBC.com.


2017 NAACP Image Awards Winning BooksNAACP 2017 Image Award Winning Books

NAACP Image Award TrophyOn February 11, 2017 the winners of the 48th NAACP Image Awards were announced. The awards show aired live on TV One. The winners of the book categories were announced during the non-televised awards dinner.

The big winner of the night was Trevor Noah whose book, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, won in two categories, Biography/Autobiography and Debut Author. I was particularly happy to learn AALBC.com friend, supporter, and bestselling author, Bernice L. McFadden won the fiction category for her novel The Book of Harlan.


…But Only 16 Black Writers Have Won Pulitzer Prizes for BooksPulitzer Prize Winning Books

The Pulitzer Prize has honored excellence in journalism and the arts since 1917, but only 16 Black authors have won the award. Literary giants including Baldwin, Hughes, and Wright were never honored. I reviewed the list over the past 100 years the award has been bestowed in the book-related categories (Fiction, Drama, History, Biography or Autobiography, Poetry, General Nonfiction, and Novel).

August Wilson was honored the most, winning twice and being a finalist three times. As far as I can tell, no Black writer has won the General Non-Fiction category. Ta-Nehesi Coates was the first writer nominated and that category.

I hope I’m wrong and that someone discovers that I missed a few names. Even if it the list of Black winners were doubled, we’d see how very important if is for us to recognize and celebrate Black talent and to celebrate the institutions who do.


Recently Reviewed Books

Life is a canvasLife Is A Canvas by Joy Elan

Lifeis a Canvas is a contemporary novel about finding love and self and how the choices we make early in life, particularly in our twenties, sets us on a path, positively or negatively, for the rest of our life.

Allegra Johnson is a go-getter. She graduated from college in three years, and got her master’s degree in one. At 23 she has secured a $75,000 grant to start a company, Mane Attraction. I didn’t understand this play on the word “Mane/Main” since the business doesn’t have anything to do with hair. It is a cafe in the early hours, then a lounge with live music during the evening where artists can perform spoken word or rap. Allegra wants to give “the youth a platform to perform and share their talents.” Elan is also a spoken word poet, and it is clear that this is an area she is passionate about. Read the complete review.


The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own edited by Veronica Chambers

Barack Obama made history by becoming the first African American President of the United States. Of almost equal significance was Michelle Obama’s becoming the first black First Lady.
Just as her husband undoubtedly inspired a generation of marginalized youngsters to believe that they could achieve anything they set their minds to, Michelle was a transformative figure in her own way, including the way she helped the world appreciate black beauty. Because of the high visibility of her position, almost single-handedly, she managed to successfully challenge the culture’s narrow definition of beauty based on European features (more).


Book Events, Fairs, Festivals, and Conferences

The Annual Harlem Literary Bunch
Videos from Harlem Literary Bruch

Dawn Davis and Sandra L. Richards

Dawn Davis and Sandra L. Richards

The brunch was co-hosted by Dawn Davis VP and Publisher of 37 Ink (an imprint of Simon and Schuster) and Morgan Stanley Managing Director and author Sandra L. Richards.

Check out videos of the readings and pictures from the event featuring Erica Armstrong Dunbar author of Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge; Tiffany Dufu, author of Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less; supermodel Pat Cleveland, author of Walking with the Muses: A Memoir, and Sandra L. Richards reading from her children’s book Rice & Rocks.


The African Americans On The Move Book Club Literary Awards — June 9-11, 2017 — Atlanta, GA

AAMBC AwardsThe annual AAMBC Literary Awards was launched in 2009 in San Antonio, Texas by Tamika Newhouse. Smaller ceremonies were then hosted in the years following in Chicago as well as in Baltimore in conjunction with other literary events. In 2015 the first inaugural red carpet ceremony took place in Atlanta, GA marking the beginning of the black writer’s weekend.

AALBC.com Founder’s, Troy Johnson, was nominated as “Literary Activist of the Year,” and will be at the awards ceremony to celebrate with all the other honorees and readers of Black literature.


One of My Favorite Bookstores – Underground BooksMother Pearl at Unerground Book bookstore

Since the closing of the only library in Oak Park in the 1970’s, it became the mission of St. HOPE founder, Kevin Johnson (former Sacramento Mayor and NBA player), to ensure that the students and the community had access to books. Underground Books hosts book signings by local and national authors, lectures, poetry events, children’s story time, radio shows and much more!

Managed and operated by the effervescent Georgia “Mother Rose” West (pictured above). The bookstore is a wonderful space and an asset to not just the local Oak Park community, but to the national Black book scene as well.


How an Ex-Black Panther Waged a Successful, Four-Decade Revolution In Publishing Without Planning To

W. Paul Coates

Upon leaving a restructured Panther party to focus more energy on assisting local comrades still incarcerated, [Paul] Coates helped forge the George Jackson Prison Movement in 1972 as a means of connecting inmates with a supportive and functional network on the outside.“What I envisioned through this movement was working with brothers who were incarcerated, bringing them out and having them work in our first program, which was to be a bookstore,” Coates says, describing it as a way for them to “contribute to our community some of the goodness that got shaped while organizing with the comrades in jail.” The idea was to then build a progressive publishing house and, subsequently, a printing house that would all work together in a symbiotic relationship with the bookstore, providing knowledge, employment, revenue and a supportive exchange between those in and out of the jail. “This is where Black Classic Press was founded,” says Coates, explaining the vision, largely inspired by the prison-based educations of Malcolm X and George Jackson, and by a literary call from Madhubuti stressing the need for Black publishing. “It didn’t have a name yet, but it was founded inside the George Jackson Prison Movement.” Read the entire article by D. Amari Jackson at the Atlanta Black Star.


AALBC.com Discussion Forums—Join The Conversation!

Discussion ForumElsewhere, this Pop Culture Vulture is motivated to put on her Milo hat because she is sick of BEYONCE who, thanks to the slavish devotion of her social media “Beehive”, thinks that having a big belly full of twins has not only obligated her to parade around and show off her bloated abdomen, but has also elevated her to the realm of Earth Mother – a goddess to be held in awe and worshiped by all who look upon her! Her appearance at the Grammys, looking like a latter-day Cleopatra with a stomach tumor, was a yawner. She needs to go somewhere and sit down and hope Jay-Z’s genes aren’t stronger than hers. I’m also sick of seeing a frolicking Obama’s grinning face plastered all over the internet, as he has embarked on an extended vacation, immersing himself in a lifestyle where the troubles of the world will never again intrude upon his carefree existence. He may be better off as result of his presidency but I’m not so sure about the rest of the black people who put him in office.


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Troy JohnsonDear Reader,

I missed sending a newsletter in February. That short month just got away from me. I will send another newsletter the last week of March to make up.

Today I decided to stop using social media indefinitely. There are several reasons for my decision. Perhaps the most important one, as it relates to AALBC.com, is that engagement on social media comes at the expense of AALBC.com—the relationship benefits the social media platform more than it benefits our website. While this decision may appear abrupt, it was carefully considered and support by years of analysis.

I know my decision is not for everyone, but as someone who runs an independent, mission-driven, website that is also their livelihood. I don’t really have much of a choice. You don’t maintain a website for 20 years by making easy decisions or following popular, often fleeting, trends.

My leaving social media does not mean you should stop sharing links to AALBC.com’s site on the social media platforms you enjoy—by all means please continue sharing information about AALBC.com everywhere.

AALBC.com will continue to thrive not because of some social media platform Troy, but because of your support.

Peace & Love,
Signature
Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com


You may receive messages like this directly in your email box by subscribing. It may also be read on your Kindle ebook reader, or any device by downloading a PDF version. Enjoy all of our previous eNewsletters and consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.
AALBC.com eNewsletter – March 2, 2017 – Issue #242

2015 Year End Thank You!

Coming in the New Year

newbookscreenshotThe biggest news for the new year is our website upgrade. We are redesigning AALBC.com from scratch, and we have the benefit of 18 years of content and experience, to bring you a world class website, celebrating Black culture through literature.

Without getting too technical, we are developing a customized CMS, which will allow us to present information about books and authors in a way that no other website can. Our new website is, mobile first, faster, more easily navigated, and less cluttered.

We now offer more flexible book buying options, including links to publishers (as with Just Us Books) and other independent booksellers, to bring you the best deals while offering publishers better opportunities to profit from their books. In some cases, as with the Go On Girl! Book Club’s reading list, commissions from book sales are donated to charity.

Speaking about book clubs, we are greatly increasing our coverage of book clubs, not only to help book clubs attract new members and share ideas without other clubs, but to help readers discover the great reads book clubs have researched and uncovered.

This is just the beginning; we still have a lot content to migrate and have not settled on a layout for our homepage, but you can review our progress, in real time, on our development website aalbc.org.

Our upgrade is a massive project, which we plan to complete in the spring 2016. Your ongoing support is crucial to the success of this effort, indeed to the survival of AALBC.com. Here are 5 things you can do to help:

  1. Share our content.
  2. Purchase your eNewsletter subscription.
  3. Buy books through our website.
  4. Share your thoughts in the comments on each page and join our discussion forums
  5. Keep reading!

The Power List & Huria Search Will Be Decommissioned

Decommissioned websitesHuria Search’s goal was to support and showcase independent Black owned content producers and book websites by making them more discoverable. The spirit of Huria Search will continue on AALBC.com. We have already migrated most of Huria Search’s content to AALBC.com, including our information on Black Bloggers, Black Newspapers, Black Magazines, Black Bookstores, Black Book Websites, with more to come.

The Power List was a collaborative effort to fill the void, left by Essence Magazine and Blackboard, for a bestsellers list covering African American literature. However, AALBC.com’s best selling books list, with our newly increased focus will be a suitable alternative next year. The new website design has made it possible to add a children’s bestselling books list and we will be able to produce a new list every month.

The freeing up of resources, previously dedicated to the Power List and Huria Search, will allow me to focus more intently on improving AALBC.com.

A Very Special Thanks to These AALBC.com Supporters

news-troyWhen one compiles a list like this, important people are invariably left off. To you I truly apologize. However I feel compelled to acknowledge a few people and institutions, who in 2015 lifted me spiritually, financially or through deed. Without your support AALBC.com would simply be impossible. In no particular order:

Dr. Elizabeth Nunez, Christopher D. Burns, Akashic Books, Kimberla Lawson Roby, SmileyBooks, Wade and Cheryl Hudson, The Center for Black Literature, Dr. David Colvin, Good2Go Publishing, Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, Robin Johnson, Connie Divers Bradley, Victoria Christopher Murray, Sherrie Young, Mike Cherichetti, Fertari Netsuziy, W. Paul Coates, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Lynda Johnson, Pamela Samuels Young, Gwen Richardson, Charisse Carney-Nunes, Queens Public Library, Baruch College, Kam Williams, Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Carol Taylor, HICKSON, Google, Martha Kennerson, M. D. Williams, Robert Fleming, Rita Williams-Garcia, Tony & Yvonne Rose, Ramunda & Derrick Young, Jamie Blatman, Kalamu ya Salaam, HICKSON, Mike D’nero, Bernard Timberlake II, Cordenia Paige, HARRY BROWN, my “Bookends NYC” crew, anyone else I failed to recognize.

Finally to my wife and daughters who bear, involuntarily, the struggle I have taken on without complaint and with love. They support my effort, of celebrating Black culture through literature, simply because it is my dream.

I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year!

Peace & Love,
Troy Johnson
AALBC.com Founder and Webmaster

news-black-pack-party-2013

AALBC.com Co-Hosts the Annual Black Pack Party Which will be Held in Chicago in 2016

 

The Top Cities for Readers of African American Literature

top cities for readers of african american literatureAALBC.com assessed the relative strengths of almost 300 American cities, to determine which ones are best able to provide environments that are supportive of, and conducive to, the enjoyment of African American Literature.

Our 2014 list improves on our original list, first published in 2013, by considering more factors for each city.   Some of the factors we considered and evaluated included the:

  • number of library visits per capita;
  • number of African American book clubs;
  • number of African American book stores;
  • city having a minimum population of 100,000;
  • percentage of African Americans relative to city’s overall population;
  • number of book events for African American readers;
  • number of African American owned newspapers;
  • number of websites dedicated African American books (city of the web site’s founder);
  • quality (length of visit, number of pages viewed, duration of stay) to the AALBC.com website, over the past 365 days; and
  • more.

We also took points away from cities with strong negative indicators for African American literacy as reflected on reports like, The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males 2010.

Finally, rather than ranking these cities, as we did last year, we decided to group the cities into tiers and sort the cities alphabetically within each tier.  This article is intended to inform readers which cities are supportive of African American literature by providing the best resources for both readers and authors, and to acknowledge each city’s contribution to that effort.

Top Tier Cities

These cities ranked high on almost all of the factors considered.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York


Atlanta, GA
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Washington, DC

Atlanta, GA is one of the top destinations for readers of African American literature. Atlanta hosts the National Book Club Conference (NBCC), the premier event for book clubs from across the nation.  Hosting the NBCC makes sense since Atlanta is one of the cities with the most Black book clubs in the U.S. Atlanta is also home to Written Magazine who hosts the popular Wine & Words® events. The city is also one of the top cities for independent Black owned bookstores in the nation;  including the cultural institution, Shrine of the Black Madonna; Medu Bookstore; and Sisters Bookshop.

Group Photograph from the 2009 NBCC Gala

Group Photograph from the 2009 National Book Club Conference Gala, held in Atlanta, GA

Los Angeles, CA is home to one of the oldest and perhaps finest remaining Black owned bookstore in America, Eso Won Books.  The city hosts a number of popular events including, the 8 year old, Leimert Park Village Book Fair.   Los Angeles is another top city for socializing with other readers, as it is in the top five cities with the highest number of book clubs focused on African American literature.

While New York, NY is arguably the publishing capital of the world and home to the National Book Awards, “The City,” however, did not earn any points for those reasons. New York is home to The National Black Writer’s Conference, The Harlem Book Fair, The African American Literary Awards Show and many other events dedicated to African American literature.   The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture hosts a variety of programs and is one of the finest Black cultural institutions in the world.  New York City is also home to Mosaic Literary Magazine and Writers’ World Newspaper, two publications dedicated Black literature.

Philadelphia, PA is one of the cities with the most number of Black owned book stores including Black and Nobel, Hakim’s Bookstore and Gift Shop, and Horizon Books Inc.  The city’s Black owned newspaper, the Philadelphia Tribune, was founded over 130 years ago. Philly also hosts to the 23 year old African American Children’s Book Fair, the largest event of its kind in the country.

Washington, D.C. is one of the nation’s great cities for readers of all types of literature, and despite the loss of a several important booksellers in recent years they continue to be one of the nation’s top cities for readers of African American literature.  D.C. is home to the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation and the ubiquitous booksellers Mahogany Books.  They have three newspapers, the Afro-American, District Chronicles, and the Washington Informer.

Second Tier Cities

Black Classic PressBaltimore, MD
Chicago, IL
Houston, TX
Columbus, OH
New Orleans, LA

Baltimore, MD, covered by the Baltimore Times, hosts several annual Black book events including, the Baltimore African American Book Festival. Baltimore also the home of the publisher Black Classic Press who has been publishing books for over 35 years.  The bookstore, Everyone’s Place, also calls Baltimore home.

Chicago, IL is a city with a great literary tradition. They are the home to the venerated, Third World Press, who has been publishing books for almost 50 years.   They are the top city for independent newspapers, leading the way with the iconic, 114-year-old, Chicago Defender.   Chicago is also one of the top cities for independent bookstores which include Frontline Bookstore and The Underground Bookstore.  The city also hosts the popular, The Cavalcade of Authors, an event which just celebrated its 10 year.

Houston, TX is home to one of the oldest websites, dedicated to Black books, Cushcity.com,  Cushcity also ran a physical store for a number of years but is now best known the National Black Book Festival, which has hosted most of the top African American authors.  Houston is also another top city for Book clubs and brought the most number of new visitors to AALBC.com in 2014.

Columbus, OH readers take advantage of their library visiting the Columbus Metropolitan Library, at an average rate of almost nine visits per year, the 5th highest in the country.  Columbus is home to the Ujamaa Book Store.  Readers from Columbus are also active online; they are #9 on AALBC.com’s list of top visitors based upon, page views, time spent on the site, and number of visitors.

New Orleans, LA, is home to three newspapers, Data News Weekly, Louisiana Weekly, and the New Orleans Tribune.  They are also known for several book events including; The Bayou Soul Writers and Reader’s Conference; and Homefest, hosted by the Community Book Center.  New Orleans was also one of the few cities listed here not penalized for making the list of the worse performing cities for literacy.

Third Tier

St. Louis American

St. Louis American, the Best Black Newspaper in the Nation


Cleveland, OH
Detroit, MI
Memphis, TN
Newark, NJ
Richmond, VA
Seattle, WA
St. Louis, MO

Cleveland, OH has one of the highest library visits per capita of any city in the country.  They are the home to A Cultural Exchange bookstore.

Detroit, MI, boasts a Black citizenry of more than 82% of the total population and is the home to three newspapers, Michigan Chronicle, Michigan Citizen, and the Telegram Newspaper.  They are the home to Source Booksellers and The Essence of Motown Writers Alliance & Motown Writers Network.

Memphis, TN, hosts the Black Writers And Book Clubs Literacy Festival is one of the top 10 cities visiting AALBC.com over the past year.  The city is home to the Tri-State Defender newspaper and is also a top city for book clubs.

Newark, NJ’s newly elected Mayor, Ras Baraka, the son of former NJ State Poet laureate Amiri Baraka, holds a great deal of promise for a city with an established literary legacy.

Richmond, VA is the home to Richmond Free Press, and The Richmond Voice newspapers.  Richmond, with a Black population greater than 50%, is on Amazon’s list of the “Most Well-Read Cities in America.”

Seattle, WA attracted Go On Girl! Book Club’s, 30 national chapters, for their 23rd Annual Awards Weekend.  The city of avid readers visits the Seattle Public Library at one of the highest rates, per capita, than any city in the country.  Seattle is also #4 on Amazon’s list of most well-read cities.

St. Louis, MO is home to The St. Louis American who won the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s Russwurm/Senstacke Trophy for general excellence, making it the “Best Black Newspaper” in the nation.

Worthy of Note

aa-citiesAnn Arbor, MI;
Baton Rouge, LA;
Birmingham, AL;
Dallas, TX;
Fort Worth, TX;
Indianapolis, IN;
Milwaukee, WI;
Oakland, CA;
Tallahassee, FL; and
Raleigh, NC.

Each of these cities rank well on three or more dimensions and show strong potential for breaking into one of the top tiers.

We appreciate people still prefer to see rankings, so we published the ranking of the top 50 American U.S. cities on our discussion forum.

You may freely share this information provided you credit the source, Troy Johnson, AALBC.om and include the following URL, http://aalbc.it/cities4blackreaders to link back to this page.

We welcome critiques in the comments section below.

Sources

American Library Association (Public Library Information)
Cush City (Book club information)
Huria Search (Newspaper, Magazine, Bookstore, Book Web Site, Information)
United States Census Bureau (Population Demographics)