Tag Archives: Writers

“Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Black Book Industry?”

Exploring The Feasibility Boycotting Amazon’s Bookstore

In the following video, Ruth J. Morrison, CEO and Executive Producer, What’s The 411TV; and I discuss Amazon’s adverse 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.

Perhaps the salvation of the Black Book Ecosystem may lies in Black people abandoning Amazon’s bookstore and using our own resources…

The reality is that Amazon’s adverse impact on the book industry transcends any niche, however, you know the saying, “When white folks catch a cold, Black folks get pneumonia.”

Several weeks ago I conducted a survey in which I asked the following question:

“Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Book Industry?”

The question was not limited to just the Black book ecosystem, but the entire industry.  Many took this to mean mainstream publishing.

For the sake of clarity, boycotting Amazon’s bookstore is not being considered to save the “Big Five,” (Hachette Book Group, HarperCollinsMacmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster), New York based publishing houses.

While the “Big Five” are adversely impacted, by Amazon’s near monopolistic dominance, this potential boycott is about saving the entire book industry which includes; independent presses; self-published authors; indie booksellers; and, most importantly, readers.

“Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Book Industry?”

When I posed this question,  I had no idea how strong options were on both sides of this issue. The majority of respondents, 65%, were in favor of a boycotting Amazon’s bookstore—indeed several had already launched a personal boycott.

Others were boycotting not just Amazon’s bookstore, but all of Amazon.com and the many websites they own from Abebooks to Zappos shoe store for a variety of reasons including Amazon’s oppressive labor practices, tax avoidance, and more.

28% of the respondents were against a boycott of Amazon’s bookstore.  The main reason cited by authors was the fact that without Amazon they would be unable to sell their books—this is precisely why this boycott is being considered.

Just over 7% were unsure if they would participate in a boycott.  Most of these respondents appreciated both sides of the issue, but were unsure of the what the right course of action should be, or doubted that any action was necessary.

Review the Complete Details of Our Survey Results

Below I’ve highlighted the most popular reasons people were against a boycott of Amazon’s  bookstore.

    1. Amazon is Inexpensive, Easy to Use, and They Deliver Books for Free
      Amazon also has the power to wring discounts out of major publishers that are unavailable to any other bookseller.  As a result, it is impossible for any independent bookseller to compete with Amazon on price.  While Amazon can afford to sell books at a loss for the foreseeable future, it does not seem likely this tactic will continue indefinitely. Prices will naturally increase and in the absence of competition prices will be higher than they the should be.
    2. I Read Kindle eBooks
      The format that is most popular is Amazon’s Kindle which commands 83% of U.S. ebook business. The rest of the shrinking ebook competition is essentially shared with Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Google. Worse, many authors have chosen to give Amazon exclusivity for their ebooks sales. For all practical purposes Amazon is a monopoly for eBooks.Of course under a monopoly, with a proprietary ebook format, readers and authors are worse off than they would be if there were more options to buy, sell, and distribute ebooks.
    3. Amazon Published Me When Traditional Publishers Rejected My Book
      Amazon does not reject anyone. Amazon makes money not matter what the quality of the book is, because the author pays all the expenses and incurs all the risk. There is no shortage of companies that can provide this service.Traditional publishers invest in an author’s work by paying them an advance. The writer does not pay to have their book produced, marketed, and distributed. Of course some books, most even, will be rejected in this system but not every book is commercially viable.
  1. Amazon is Too Powerful to be Impacted by a Boycott
    No company is too powerful to be boycotted.  The issue is; are the short term sacrifices, worth the long term benefits, to enough people?

I have no idea when, or even if, a boycott of Amazon will take place. What I do know is that part of the reason Amazon is dominates the Black Book Ecosystem is that we are not exercising our options. We can free ourselves, of our dependency on Amazon, by choosing or creating alternatives that may actually be better.

There simply too many organizations, unions, guilds, publishers, authors, booksellers, distributors, and readers who understand the adverse impact Amazon’s near monopoly has on the business of books for us to stand by and do nothing about it.

If you are interested in helping to organize a boycott of Amazon’s Bookstore, please join our platform to discuss in more detail.


Feel free to email me any questions or concerns you may have. Also, keep in mind this is not “my” effort it is “our” effort. None of us can have an impact alone; we need each other for us to reap the benefits of reducing or even eliminating Amazon’s dominance of the book industry.

Please share this blog post with anyone you think may be interested.  Please complete the short form below to join our mailing list to help organize this effort.

If you are interested in helping to organize a boycott of Amazon’s Bookstore, please provide your contact information and we’ll contact you shortly.

Troy Johnson
AALBC.com, Founder and Webmaster

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.

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

How Facebook is Perverting Your Internet.

A friend shared a link to a video on Facebook with me. The video, shown at the end of the article, is a short New York Times documentary which describes how Facebook is changing the Internet.

Of course I found the video interesting.  The video describes just one problem a very powerful company like Facebook creates. This is a subject I’ve observed and written about for almost a decade. I’m happy to see an entity with a platform as large and respected as The New York Times take this issue on.

I was directed to Facebook to watch this video. The Times embedded the video on Facebook. It appears The Times felt more people would view the video on Facebook than on their website, or any other place they might share it. Apparently the revenue The Times loses and that Facebook gains, as a result of giving the video to Facebook, was worth the trade off. However it also illustrates how The Times actually helps Facebook become more dominant further exacerbating the problem the video describes.

For that reason, I’ve decided to share the video here rather than send viewers to Facebook. The Times titled the video “How Facebook is Changing Your Internet.” I chose to substitute the word “Perverting.” “Changing” is a rather innocuous term, not good or bad, just different. I wanted to be clear; Facebook’s dominance is bad, really bad, for a myriad of reasons. This video does a good job in helping to explain why. If you agree, please share the information in any fashion that makes sense to you.

The following information was obtained from The New York Times.  

Facebook Faces a New World as Officials Rein In a Wild Web
By Paul Mozur, Mark Scott, and Mike Isaac, Sept. 17, 2017