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About This Club

The mission of #readingblack is to encourage everyone to read quality books written by Black people and to purchase those books from independent booksellers. We strive to develop strategies that will make it easier for book buyers to support our mission.

  1. What's new in this club
  2. Authors have compiled a public spreadsheet detailing the advances. According to Publishers Weekly, National Book Award-winner Jesmyn Ward, wrote: "Even after Salvage the Bones won the NBA [National Book Award], my publishing company did not want to give me 100k for my next novel. My agent and I fought and fought before we wrestled our way to that number." That is remarkable.
  3. @Troy us old-school Journalists believe in attribution. My copyeditor at EBONY was real old-school (she was writer/editor for Playboy back in the day) - and she checked every line of my 3800+words in those last two articles. If we couldn’t verify we took it out. All this to say, your information would have made it into the article - but unless the article was about aalbc - we wouldn’t have contacted you. We would have attributed to the article and publication we got the information. But thinking back on how she hazed me with those two articles. Never mind, Rema probably would have made me contact you! 😳😄
  4. Yeah I like the Guardian too. To clarify: There were almost certainly never 200 Black-owned books opened concurrently in America. The number open today is still closer to 50 than 100. I indicated this, in error, in the past. The Guardian did not reach out to me for comment. If they did I would have told them. (Hey @Mel Hopkins in Journalism's heyday would this have fallen into the purview of fact checking to confirm the quote attributed to me? Or it okay to just say that, "AALBC said, blah-blah-bal?" Is it OK to leave it up to the reader to determine if I actually said that, or if it is even factually accurate?) My list, includes stores that are not all Black owned and stores that have closed. Stores are MUCH more likely to email when they open or not on the list,, and never email when they close. Here is a link to Marcus Books funder rasier: https://www.gofundme.com/f/marcus-books-anniversary-fundraiser
  5. As a webmaster the I can't emphasize the damaged caused by that particular type of error. The crazy this is that a 404 Error is a trival problem to correct -- it is inexcusable It led me to remove prominent link on my site to there on one of the sites most prominent pages, just search for "top black owned websites." I'm glad they are both back up. But the top news stories on Jet's site are years old, the "news" on Ebony's site look like ads for celebrity products, and both site are celebrity and entertainment driven.
  6. Yeah I recently described Marus as my favorite book store. They do not sell coffee and danish, but they had tables of books and people who were willing to talk about the books and culture. The books they carried were not in any of the chain store or white run independents. They were one of the few stores of the type left in the country. There are a number of stores with online campaigns. The local community needs to step up. -- they are the ones who will lose the most if these stores fail. @Mel Hopkins maybe Google will save them too 😉
  7. @Mel Hopkins, I don't dispute the fact; I just don't like it. The CDC says cigarette smoke kills more and 400K a year in the United States. The largest of these murderers, Phillip Morris, donates millions around the world for disaster relief, education, whatever... Jeff Bezos saved the Washington Post newspaper from failure, and indications are that he has not abused his ownership. But the arrow is in his quiver whenever he needs it. Michael Bloomberg tells Bloomberg News not to cover him -- even during the presidential bid that he financed out of his own pocket. No, I don't like any of this. But I know it is the American way. Google of all business SHOULD pay for news. They copy content from news site post the results on the SERP, hijacking traffic from the news sites. Google's monopoly (with Facebook) has forced news sites to buy advertising from Google making matters even worse! Google is, in a large part, responsible for the demise of newspapers and journalism along with it. They should have been broken up long ago -- their donations is window dressing designed to fool people that they provide some societal good, meanwhile they have laid waste to numerous websites and their print publications. Some call this progress, but the death of local journalism is the exact opposite of progress.
  8. The Guardian newspaper (US) covers the plight of Marcus Books during the Coronavirus Pandemic in the article "Economic duress is nothing new': Can America's oldest black bookstore survive the pandemic?" by Andre' Wheeler dated Fri 15 May 2020 Wheeler references AALBC's black bookstores research in the article. "According to the African-American Literature Book Club, there were over 200 black-owned bookstores in the 90s. In 2019, the number was slightly over 120. " (Author's note: I also donate money to The Guardian )
  9. EBONY Website is back up. According to a few articles including The Root and Chicago Crusader - the Clear View Group owners they didn't mean to leave it offline for more than two days. Not sure what that means and neither article elaborated.
  10. Marcus Books, the oldest black-owned bookstore in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA needs your help to preserve black history. Go Here for more information.
  11. Marcus Books is in danger of closing its doors forever. That is, if it doesn't get funding. The San Francisco Bay Area bookstore billed as the oldest black-owned independent bookstore in the United States had to close its doors due to the Coronavirus pandemic. To cover ongoing operating expenses and costs, Folasade Adesanya set up a fundraiser in April - with a $200,000 goal. So far, the team has raised half and are reaching out for help to meet the goal. Drs. Raye and Julian Richardson founded Marcus Books in 1960 and named it after the freedom fighter and publisher Marcus Garvey. The Marcus Books family say in their appeal for funding, "At Marcus Books, "Black" is not a subject, a single month, or a niche; it is the universe. "Black" is not just history; it is the present and the future." To donate and preserve black history - visit gofundme.com "Marcus Books Anniversary Fundraiser" https://www.gofundme.com/f/marcus-books-anniversary-fundraiser
  12. @Troy "Like it or not, Google and Facebook are becoming the leading patrons of the news industry." Digiday, Max Willens, May 11, 2020
  13. It is a good thing I clicked the link @Mel Hopkins I initially thought you were referencing Black Voices the site that AOL took over and the Huff Post ultimately killed (if memory serves). I do track Black Voice News here on AALBC. Sure get the money while the getting is good. But I can't ignore the fact that journalism is increasingly dependent upon the largess of the very entities that help destroy it. Facebook's platforms are almost single handedly responsible for propagating the 5G WIFI, Black people are immune, created in a lab, and God know what other Covid conspiracy theories. How many lives were lost as a result? Will a 100 million dollar cut of their profits -- which be will reduce their tax liability -- makeup for the havoc they caused? I do not think so. Sure take their money, but lets be clear, it is blood money.
  14. According to a press release dated May 10, 2020 Sovereign Noir Publications is celebrating the release of their debut Novella "Nothing but a Number" by Kayona Ebony Brown. It's the first in a series called "Of Music and Men." Sovereign Noir CEO Kameisha Jerae Hodge said of the new release, "Of Music and Men is a really dope series, both the novellas and the podcast, and it is very exciting to be a part of something that combines entrepreneurship, Black women’s perspectives, and the mindset of being a millennial in such a weird space and time. Kayona really captures the essence of presenting reality in a comedic and thoughtful way." The second in the series is also available for pre-sale on a pay-what-you-can basis at both sovereignnoir.com and ofmusicandmen.com . I made the mistake of listening to the first episode of the podcast and - Kayona's voice is soothing and hypnotizing. So be careful, if you listen, you might get hooked. https://www.sovereignnoir.com/about http://ofmusicandmen.com/
  15. Black Voice News won a $100,000 Facebook grant that is geared to supporting newsrooms during COVID-19 pandemic. According to Facebook's grant page, the "Facebook Journalism Project’s relief fund for local news" is granting an additional $100 million to support journalism during the pandemic. This is in addition to the $300 million grant initiative to support journalism around the world. So far, 200 news organizations have received funding from the local news fund. According to the Black Voice News Community News article , Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, publisher said "The grant will allow our team to build on our current reporting on the economic impact of COVID-19 on our community as well as help build our growing interest in data journalism and digital mapping.” If you also write for a newspaper you can learn more about the Facebook Journalism Project by visiting https://www.facebook.com/journalismproject .
  16. You and your friends are cordially invited to the Independent Book Publishers Benjamin Franklin Award Ceremony. Watch writers receive awards in more than 50 categories. The ceremony takes place from Tuesday, May 4 to Friday, May 8, from 4PM- 6PM Pacific Time. You don't have to dress up or catch a plane to California (not that you could). It is free. All you have to do is register. And you don't have to attend all four days. May 8 is the last day you can register. Click on the link below to watch the 1minute 35 second video. Scroll down below the video to click on the link to register. I was told I could invite the world. I am trying my best to do so. Hope to see you there. Here's the link
  17. I'm not surprised at all by the silence in reaction to this question. Several years ago the strongest critics to to the idea of an all out boycott of Amazon came from indie authors. Many indie authors are beholden to Amazon. In fact they have given Anazon the exclusive right to sell books. Even if they haven't given Amazon exclusivity, Amazon published their book and the terms to other booksellers are so bad it is not profitable for other booksellers to sell their books. Now if you posed that question in a room full of booksellers with physcial bookstores you would not have been able to shut anyone up. I think one solution is helping readers who buy books to buy from anyone but Amazon. The other problem is that too many indie booksellers use Amazon's marketplace to sell books. Unless this stops Amazon's virtual monopoly will grow stronger. They won't stop because these booksellers would be out of business without Amazon's platform. Ultimately, the only solution is a boycott of Amazon. I'm boycotting them and I know others who are too. Talk to you later this afternoon Wendy. I was thinking about creating a drop squad to deal with Black booksellers who sell books on Amazon. 🙂
  18. Today I attended Independent Book Publishing Association's Annual meeting remotely. In the open forum, I asked if IBPA could wean writers away from "A." Considering what happened at Christmas time with delayed orders and the "non-essential" designation during this time of the corona virus I thought it should be a priority. The head of the organization asked for members to comment before she gave her opinion. There was dead silence from the other 106 members at the meeting. The head of the organization then said that IBPA had prevented "A" from using Audible caption on books not in the public domain. True, this was a victory. But reacting to each outrage one by one is not as effective as not using them at all. She then went on to say that IBPA encourages members to "diversify, diversify, diversify" and pointed to an article that one of the members had written. This is true. She continued that the association could not tell members which distribution channel to use. Another panelist said that if you did business with "A" you were "restricted in the way you talked about them." She added that they had the best lawyers around. The next question was from a member asking if IBPA could set up a committee to study "A"'s algorithms. That did it for me. In the chat, I asked if a webinar could be given to let members know about alternatives to "A." I have taken two webinars in which the presenters stressed that trying to get an appearance on "Oprah" or a review in the "New York Times" is probably not likely, but your local station or newspaper is a more realistic possibility. In other words, there are other options. I didn't stay to have an after discussion with the panelists on this issue because I hadn't eaten and didn't think I could continue to be diplomatic. The head of the organization had not read aloud my comments comparing "A" to enslavement. Probably considering them too inflammatory. As for taking "A''s money, this is the stuff novels and plays are made of. Do you stand on principle and go bankrupt or do you take the money and stay in business? Saying no does not just involve the owner. The business has employees and those employees have families. Taking the money and letting them stay anonymous means probably not making negative comments about them. You took the money didn't you? What would I do? I don't know. If I were writing this, I'd have a scene where the owner is going to give in because of her concern for the employees and their families, and they refuse to let her. They raise some money, but not as much as if they had taken the "blood money." But they end with their integrity. There is nothing that upsets wealthy people more than finding out that everyone does not have a price, that money can't buy everyone.
  19. Interesting. I did not know this. Imagine what a powerful statement it would have been if Amazon's money was rejected. I can however understand why'd they would take it. I definitely would have kept them anonymous. Revealing who they were played right into their hands. Amazon made an investment. ------- Amazon has a grocery store near where I teach. There are no cashiers. You swipe in pick up what you want and are automatically billed. Amazon has a physical bookstore not too far away. No booksellers, very few Black books, and steps aways from a Borders bookstore that shut down. There are several Wholefoods nearby including one in Harlem... Amazon will not stop until they are the only place you can by anything.
  20. A wolf in sheep's clothing is still a wolf. In 1892, during the Homestead, PA, strike against Carnegie's steel company, women and children were killed by Pinkerton guards when they joined the strikers to support their sons, brothers, spouses, and fathers. Carnegie--in his native Scotland at the time--hired the Pinkertons guards and Henry Clay Frick ordered them to shoot into the crowd. When Carnegie began funding libraries in small towns, which would then be named after him--the industrialist now turned philanthropist--many would not accept the money. The towns did not want his "blood money" and insisted on raising money for their libraries themselves. You don't have to be a New Yorker to have heard of Carnegie Hall and the Frick Museum. Even if, as a friend of mine says who worked for the Carnegie Endowment, in later life Carnegie saw the error of his ways, it should not mean that what he did to make the money he gave away should not be forgotten. Tell both sides of the story. The same is true of "A."
  21. A meaningless gesture. It literarlly takes Amazon less than 30 seconds to generate $250K. Bezos' personal net worth has increased by that much in the time it took me to read the article and write this post. I hope those booksellers are not silly enough to think amazon is their friend. Drug dealers occasionally hand out money to the people in communities they help destroy too.
  22. What the hell. Look at this. https://amp.theguardian.com/books/2020/apr/23/amazon-mystery-250000-pound-donor-to-uk-bookshops
  23. I found a reason to use Bookshop. It allows me to provide buys links for books I do not plan to sell here on AALBC. Here is an example for a buy link for the book, Clan of the Cave Bear.
  24. Forget what I wrote about how Amazon pays affiliates for sales on other products a referred customer might order. Amazon has just dramatically drop affiliate commission 50 to 80% on other products!? Amazon gave affiliates one week's notice and did this during a global pandemic! Amazon really is a shitty company. I was going to give away my Amazon fire stick now I'm just going to dump it in the trash.
  25. Here is the reply from Bookshop. I defintely did expect a resonse on Easter Sunday. Has the expectation for business communication become 24/7 since I been in corporate America? Thank you for your email. In order for a bookstore to be listed on our site, they must have a brick and mortar store and be a member of the ABA. If they met those requirements, then they would need to reach out to my colleague in order to start their account with us. Let me know if you have any more questions! ...I guess just another competitor. ABA provides bookstore software to members. I guess this software is being phased out. I'm an ABA member (not sure when my membership expires), anywho ABA currently runs a site https://www.indiebound.org/ in which readers can find a book then select the closest indie bookstore (including AALBC) to buy the book. Bookstores earn their full commission. I hope, for the sake of member stores, that ABA does not abandon that program.
  26. The has been a lot of noise about Bookshop lately. Bookshop's affiliate model is superior to that of Amazon, in that their affiliate revenue share is 10% versus Amazon's 4%. However the comparison is not as simple as that, for Amazon also pays affiliates for everything customizers buy during that tranascation (unti the cookie dies 24 hours). So if they also buy a lawn mower affiliates earn commissions on that sale as well. It was not unusual for AALBC to earn more on commissions on the sale of other items books. The problem with Amazon is that they abuse other business and use them only as long as they need them. Amazon will use their website to identify popular product then manufacture those products under their own brand and bury the the competition in the search. I no longer do business with Amazon not just because commissions on book sales suck, but because they have undermined Black books by providing a platform for bootlegging our books, monopolizing ebook sales, ripping authors off by encouraging them to sell exclusively through Amazon and making their books unattractive to any other books sellers to sell, etc, etc. Bookshop is touting themselves as a solution to booksellers, While 10% is better than nothing it pales in comparison to what can be earned by booksellers, or even authors who sell books directly. When I buy book from a distributor my discount is 45% from the published it is 50% to 65%. 10% is a relative pittance. However Bookshop and I have a common enemy, so I reached out, via email, to them to learn more: Hi Bookshop, How do independent web based booksellers, like AALBC, benefit from your support of independent booksellers? AALBC is a 22 years old web based bookseller with our own database, using Bigcommerce to process transactions, and Ingram, mostly, to drop ship. Obviously 10% commissions do not help us, but we have a common goal of preventing Amazon creating a true monopoly in the sale and production of books. I notice the AALBC is not listed as a bookseller on your site. I also noticed that a popular brick and mortar store in New York City, Sisters Uptown Bookstore, as well as a bunch of others, are also missing. How do these stored get listed on your website? Peace, Troy Johnson Founder AALBC.com Honestly I don't expect much love from Bookshop. Indeed they will probably just be another competitor. I'll let you know what response i get, if any.

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