Tag Archives: Bookstores

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


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

2 Ways Google is Killing Online Booksellers & How You Can Help

(1) Google Uses its Dominance in Search to Hijack Traffic from Websites

Google does this by placing content, it has collected from other websites, ahead of their search engine results, to sell its own products and services.  Google engages in this practice in a wide variety of areas from restaurant ratings to travel directions.

However, Google has had a particularly devastating impact on online booksellers—Google has literally embedded its own online bookstore prominently in their search engine results.  Rather than directing visitors to other websites, which should be the purpose of a search engine, Google is abusing their virtual monopoly in search by standing in bookseller’s virtual doorways and grabbing visitors before they can enter.

I’ve been tracking, and participating in, online book sales for 20 years.  My niche is Black literature and the impact on this group of sites has been particularly devastating.

Despite websites being less expensive and easier to create than ever before, there are far fewer websites dedicated to black literature today than there were 10 years ago. Those that remain are struggling to grow because they are unable to attract enough visitors to generate the revenue needed to maintain their websites.

The video below demonstrates how Google does this:

 

(2) Google’s Virtual Monopoly in Search Allows Them to Control Which Sites are Visited

I would argue that Google’s search engine is one of the the most significant developments on the web.  In fact, I use Google’s search engine on this site, because it is an excellent service (Google is discontinuing this service in 2018).

Unfortunately, Google does make mistakes, and these mistakes and be very costly if not catastrophic for the affected business.  Consider the following graph from Semrush’s website, which shows their estimate of this site’s traffic.

Graph of AALBC.com Traffic hit

While Semrush’s data is not prefect, they estimate a site’s traffic based upon how frequently it shows up in Google’s search results (big data stuff), they did correctly identify a significant drop in traffic to AALBC.com, back in 2011.  The drop in traffic was a direct result in a reduction of traffic from organic search from Google.

Now Google never provided, or even made themselves available for, an explanation of this dramatic, overnight, drop in traffic from search.  Many, less sophisticated, web site owners never knew what hit them. The drop in our traffic was apparently the result of a change in the code Google used to rank websites. Affected businesses were left to speculate on the specific underlying reasons for their site being penalized in search engine results.

This lack of transparency from Google has fostered a industry of people touting services to help you understand and improve (or game) your site’s search engine rankings.

This has also fostered a level of paranoia, which has led to an unwillingness of websites to link to each other for fear they could hurt their own site’s ranking in search. This behavior actually puts more power into Google’s hands, as websites are no longer a good way to discover other sites.  AALBC.com has never stopped linking to other good sites. Part of the value the site our site provides is helping visitors discover other websites they will enjoy.

From my experience, the best way to address Google’s search engine rankings is to follow all of Google’s recommendations and guidelines.  No matter how you feel about it, if you want your site to rank on the only search engine that matters, you must follow Google’s rules.

AALBC.com’s traffic has completely recovered 2011. 2017 is on track to be a record year for page views. Visitor quality is also better; visitors look at more pages and stay on the site longer.

AALBC.com is a higher quality site because of my adherence to Google’s mandates, but I invest a significant portion of my time addressing “Google Issues.”  This time and energy comes at the expense of creating valuable content for the site.

The environment created by Google also discourages the creation of new sites because it is not enough to produce quality content, you must also be well versed in Google search engine optimization.

Google Makes the World Wide Web a Less Rich Place

Because of these practices and more, Google makes the World Wide Web a much less rich place.  We are rapidly reaching a point where only the most massive corporate sites have a chance at survival.

Google has argued that they are trying to create the best possible experience for their visitors. In reality, what they have done is help make the web less accommodating to diversity and creativity, by making it an environment hostile to independence and where only the wealthiest companies have a chance to maintain a profitable platform.

Many who would have operated their own website, just 5 years ago, are now using Facebook as their primary web presence, because they believe their chances for discovery and survival are better on Facebook. As a result, visitors need a Facebook account to engage with this content. Once on Facebook visitors are treated to the same cookie cutter style and presentation. This situation contributes to concentrating of wealth into the hands of a few massive corporations. The rich get richer and wealth inequality continues to rises…

What Can You Do?

Support independent bookseller websites by;

  • Visiting their websites (here are more than 50);
  • Purchasing the products they sell;
  • Sharing their content by utilizing word of mouth, social media, anyway that makes sense;
  • Linking to bookseller websites from your website or blog;
  • Engaging with their content by leaving comments and participating in their discussion forums; and
  • Buying advertising on their platforms if available;

Sure, buying from an indie bookseller, might cost you a bit more on the price and you may need to wait a little longer to receive the product, but will we be better if the only place we can buy a book is from Google and Amazon?

Join our conversation about the importance of independent booksellers (both online and physical stores).

Support Independent websites, including this one, especially if you want them to thrive rather than merely survive.

Video: Update on The Premier Website for Black Books

AALBC.com is a massive, feature rich, website.  Many visitors don’t appreciate the site’s size and scope, so I created this video to help describe some of what AALBC.com has to offer.

I also describe some of the recent enhancements which have been added as a result of the upgrade we started last year.