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We've lost 197 Black Owned Book Stores in the last few Years


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Almost half of the stores open in March of 2012 are now closed




A & B Distributors  — Brooklyn, NY
A New Quality Book and Boutique — Plainfield, NJ
Africa Enterprises — W. Memphis, AR
African & Islamic Books Plus  — Cleveland, OH
African American Books and Publishing  — Baltimore, MD
African American Gift Gallery  — Knoxville, TN
African American Gifts & Books — Wichita, KS
African American Heritage Book  — West Palm Beach, FL
African Artisans  — Baldwin, NY
African Book Store  — Fort Lauderdale, FL
African Heritage Books & Gifts  — San Francisco, CA
African House Institute of Learning  — Jersey City, NJ
African Marketplace  — Los Angeles, CA
Afro Books  — Atlanta, GA
Afrocentric Book Store  — Chicago, IL
Afrocentric Books & Cafe  — St. Louis, MO
Agape Christian Books Gifts and Music — Baltimore, MD
Alkebulan Books  — Berkeley, CA
Alkebu-Lan Images Bookstore & Gift Shop — Nashville, TN
Amen-Ra’s Bookstore and Gallery  — Tallahassee, FL
Arawak Books  — Hyattsville, MD
Ascension Books  — Columbia, MD
Asiatic the Soul of Black Folks  — Toronto, ON
Atlantic Bookpost  — Reston, VA
B.T.S. Unlimited Books  — Detroit, MI
Baruti-Ba Books  — Dayton, OH
Basic Black Books — Philadelphia, PA
Bishari Urban Books, Phoenix Crossing Shopping Center  — ayetteville, NC
Black Book Discounters  — Houston, TX
Black Books Galore, Inc. — Stamford, CT
Black By Popular Demand  — Hyattsville, MD
Black Classics Books & Gifts — Mobile, AL
Black Images Book Bazaar  — Dallas, TX
Black Mind Book Boutique — Brooklyn, NY
Black Orchid Books — Maiden, MA
Black Spring Books  — Vallejo, CA
Black Swan Books & Coffee  — Kohler, WI
Blacknificent Books & More  — Raleigh, NC
Blackprint Heritage Gallery  — New Haven, CT
Book House Cafe & Gifts  — Benton Harbor, MI
Books and Beignets Bookstore — Ridgeland, MS
Books In Color  — North Highlands, CA
Books in the Black  — Columbia, SC
Books 'n Things, Cross Keys Plaza — Wichita, KS
Books-In-The-Hood — Bronx, NY
Bright Lights Children’s Bookstore  — Inglewood, CA
Brighter Day Books & Gifts — Cincinnati, OH
Brother’s Books  — Seattle, WA
Carol’s Essentials Ethnic Gifts and Books  — Seattle, WA
Carol's Books & Things — Sacramento, CA
Celebrate  — Peachtree City, GA
Creative Impressions — Newark, NJ
Crescent Office Store  — East Orange, NJ
Cultural Bookstore   — Chicago, IL
Cultural Collections — Brockton, MA
Cultural Expression  — Newport News, VA
Cultural Expressions Bookstore — Clarksville, TN
CushCity — Houston, TX
D & J Book Distributors  — Laurelton, NY
Da Book Joint  — Chicago, IL
DARE Books & Educational Supplies  — Brooklyn, NY
DeesBookNook Distributors  — So. Richmond Hills, NY
Deja Vu Book Lounge — New York, NY
Dorothea’s African-American Books and Gifts  — Columbia, SC
Drum and Spear Books  — Washington, DC
Dygnyti Books  — Hamden, CT
Dynasty Bookstore, Eastland Mall  — Charlotte, NC
EDEN Books  — Hartford, CT
Education 2000+ Bookstore  — Long Beach, CA
Ethnic Elegance  — Jacksonville, FL
Ethnic Image Books & More — Nashville, TN
Ethnic Notions Bookstore — Benicia, CA
Exhale African American Books & Gifts  — Sugar Land, TX
Expansion Books — Huntsville, AL
Faith To Faith Books   — Minneapolis, MN
Forewords Books & Gifts, Located in Originations Gallery  — Ann Arbor, MI
Freedom Now Bookstore  — Decatur, GA
Gateway Bookstore — Jacksonville, FL
Gene’s Books  — King of Prussia, PA
Global Greetings International Gift Gallery — Lafayette, IN
Haneef’s Bookstore and Mosi Art Gallery  — Wilmington, DE
Hanna's Ethnic Bookseller — Claremont, CA
Heritage Bookstore and More  — Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Heritage House  — Charlotte, NC
Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe — New York, NY
Imagine This! Books Etc. — Memphis, TN
Imagine This! Books Etc.  — Memphis, TN
Imoya Treasures, Inc — Rahway, NJ
IronWood Corner  — Pasadena, CA
Jamaicaway Books & Gifts  — Boston, MA
Jokae's African-American Books — Dallas, TX
Kana CDs & Books  — Columbus, OH
Karibu Books (6 Locations) — Hyattsville, MD
King Solomon's Children's Enterprise — Winston-Salem, NC
Know Thyself, Bookstore and Cultural Development Center  — Philadelphia, PA
Kongo Square Gallery  — Los Angeles, CA
Kujichagulia Book Store — Paterson, NJ
LaCeter’s Book Service  — Southfield, MI
Liberation Bookstore  — New York, NY
Ligorius Bookstore Inc.  — Philadelphia, PA
Literary Sweets, Bookstore and Chocolate Shoppe — Columbia, SC
Living Room Book & Pastry  — Greensboro, NC
Lodestar Books  — Birmingham, AL
Love Christian Book Store  — Orlando, FL
Magnolia Tree Books — Laurel, MS
Mahogany Books  — Detroit, MI
Mahogany Books & Cafe — West Palm Beach, FL
Mahogany Books & Gifts  — Fairfield, AL
MasterWorks Books — Adelphi, MD
Matais Books Cards & Art  — Long Beach, CA
Mind & Soul Bookstore, Inc.  — Trenton, NJ
MochaReaders  — Dayton, OH
Montsho BookFairs, Etc., Inc.  — Orlando, FL
Mt. Zion Kid’s Village, Little Angels Children’s Bookstore  — Jonesboro, GA
Mutana Afrikan Warehouse — Atlanta, GA
Nefertiti’s Books and Gifts   — Jacksonville, FL
Netu Khisa Books and Gifts — South Orange, NJ
Nimde Books  — Louisville, KY
Not Just a Bookstore — St. Louis, MO
Nu World of Books  — Beaumont, TX
Off The Shelf African American Books  — Columbia, SC
One Force Books  — Richmond, VA
Our Black Heritage  — New York, NY
Out of Africa, Windsor Park Mall  — San Antonio, TX
Paperback Connection  — Oklahoma City, OK
Paradise Book Store  — Peoria, AZ
Peek-A-Boo Books II, Wheaton Mall  — Wheaton, MD
People’s Books & Gifts  — Springfield, OH
Phenix Information Center  — San Bernardino, CA
PowerHouse Books  — Hopkins, SC
Precious Memories Reading and Collectibles  — Richmond, VA
Rainbow Books & Blooms  — Yorktown Heights, NY
Reading Room Bookstore   — Chicago, IL
Roots & Wings: A Cultural Bookplace   — Montgomery, AL
Sacred Thoughts Bookstore  — Jersey City, NJ
Sensational Minds  — Savannah, GA
Sepia, Sand, & Sable — Baltimore, MD
Serengeti Plains   — Montclair, NJ
Shades of Sienna  — Oakland, CA
Shrine of the Black Madonna — Houston, TX
Sibayne — Baltimore, MD
Sidewalk University  — Memphis, TN
Sisterspace and Books — Washington, DC
Smiley's, The Mecca of Information — Carson, CA
Soul Source Bookstore  — Atlanta, GA
Special Occasions  — Winston-Salem, NC
Spirits Embodied — Pittsburgh, PA
Stouffville Book Connection Inc  — Stouffville, ON
Sweet Spirit Bookstore & Gift Shop — Oklahoma City, OK
TDIR Books  — Columbia, SC
Tenaj Books & Gift Gallery — Orlando, FL
Tenaj Books & Gift Gallery  — Fort Pierce, FL
The African Book Shelf — Cleveland, OH
The Black Bookworm — Fort Worth, TX
The Black Bookworm  — Fort Worth, TX
The Black Library  — Boston, MA
The Book House Café, LGBT Books  — Oakland, CA
The Book Lovers Lounge  — Lauderdale Lakes, FL
The Book Suite — Columbus, OH
The Crowning Seat of Wisdom, Inc. — Madison, GA
The Cultural Connection Bookstore   — Milwaukee, WI
The Epicenter Bookshop-UIC — Chicago, IL
The Heritage Center  — Vicksburg, MS
The Know Bookstore  — Durham, NC
The Living Word Bookstore  — Chicago, IL
The Presence of Africans In the Bible Book Center  — Minneapolis, MN
The Reading Room Bookstore  — Atlanta, GA
The Roots Book Store, Inside of Tapers Hair Care  — Baton Rouge, LA
The Tree of Life Bookstore of Harlem — Atlanta, GA
Timbuktu — Cleveland, OH
Timbuktu Bookstore — Norfolk, VA
TLJ Bookstore - Prince George's Plaza — Hyattsville, MD
TLJ Bookstore - Security Square Mall — Windsor Mill, MD
TLJ Bookstore - The Centre at Forestville — Forestville, MD
Too-No Books Etc.  — Moss Point, MS
Treasures of the Mind Bookstore  — St. Louis, MO
Tricia’s Books N’ Things  — Houston, TX
True South Bookstore — Brooklyn, NY
Truth Boutique & Bookstore, Eastland Mall #823  — Harper Woods, MI
Tunde Dada House of Africa  — Orange, NJ
Tunde Dada House of Africa, Green Acres Mall  — Valley Stream, NY
Tunde Dada House of Africa, Woodbridge Mall — Woodbridge, NJ
Two Friends Bookstore  — Atlanta, GA
Uhuru Books — Saint Paul, MN
Uhuru Books  — Minneapolis, MN
Ujamaa Maktaba — St. Louis, MO
Under One Roof Afrikan American Bookstore  — Killeen, TX
Underground Railroad Reading Station Bookstore & Giftshop — Detroit, MI
Urban Books On Wheels — Pleasantville, NJ
W&W African American Art, Specializing in Books & Gift Items, Etc.  — Fayetteville, NC
X-pression Bookstore & Gallery  — Indianapolis, IN
Yawa Books  — Washington, DC
Yehudah Inc.  — Teaneck, NJ
Yoruba Book Center — Brooklyn, NY
Zambezi Bazaar — Los Angeles, CA
Zawadi Gift Shop  — Brooklyn, NY
Zoe Christian Bookstore — New York, NY

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Add to that both locations of Urban Books here in Memphis and this is definitely out of control. However, we only have ourselves to look at. In today's climate any place that opens has to serve multiple markets. With the amount of food trucks out there now, if a local bookstore opened (Black owned) they would have to do what B&N does and offer food. They would also have to work to promote literacy through poetry readings and events on the Friday nights and weekends. It would also benefit the locations to offer Wi-Fi and allow for small business people without offices to operate out of the business like a small urban workspace.


Just being a bookstore, or any kind of store solely is not a viable business. I'm considering opening an art gallery because I love art. However, it will also double as a retail space for high end apparel and footwear. I will also potentially carry books and I will most definitely host open mics and various events as well as create a room for incubators. I know I have to do this because simply opening an art gallery space would not generate enough money.


This is terrible though, just terrible.

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Hey man check out my article: I included a clip from the most recent National Black Writers Conference


Also do you know if those location were part of Carl Weber's stores.  I thought there were about 7 of them nationally.  I could never reach anyone from those store or even Carl for that matter.  I became aware of them before I created my book store database http://huria.org/bookstores but I was never able to get anyone on the phone, find a website or even get Carl to call me back, so I never added the stores to my database -- it is just as well they all appears to be closed anyway.

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Yes they were a part of Carl's network and the people he had running them changed so often that the primary issue with the business model was consistency. In Memphis there isn't any reason whatsoever not to have a thriving Black book store. The city is 65% Black! I have to sit stationary and watch that clip.

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Damn, that video brings it all into clear focus. Maybe, maybe, just maybe my job is to actually open a book store here in Memphis. if I can give my life to sneakers and accomplish what I have I seriously need to think about doing something similar for something that I've given my life and studies too. I know I'm speaking from emotion right now, but damn.

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I did not know Memphis was a chocolate city 65% Black.  I did not get that impression the last time I was there.


I wonder if you could sell sneakers and books in the same store?  Seriously. 


Chris do you know this store: Urban Expressions Bookstore – Memphis, TN  Was it one of Carl's? Is it actually closed?  If so the count is 53.

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I've been thinking about that. Since the art gallery was going to be based on sneaker art, hip-hop and sports, I can definitely carry books. I think it would add to the multiple use qualities of the space.


Yes that is the Urban Expressions store that I mistakenly called Urban Bookstores. Both locations closed over a year ago. They were both located in malls, which sort of makes sense since they were in "black" malls, but as you know malls are no longer the bastions of cruising for those with disposable income. The place needed to be in an artistic location that would allow it to host events without the need for the mall to be open, etc.


So indeed the count is 53. It's such a sad thing to witness.I've gone out of my way to patronize locally owned businesses and write about them to help offset this, but it simply isn't enough. We need a JK Rowling styled book that reignites black readership.


Oh and Memphis has always been a chocolate city. I'm surprised you didn't get that feeling when you came. Then again, the city is segregated and all of the projects were torn down and gentrified so that traditionally Black areas are now White.

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  • 4 months later...
  • 2 years later...
Guest John R

I want to open a black business and sell books as well as art and many other culturally significant pieces. I'm having a hard time finding suppliers. I want to open a store if you can help me with getting product to my store that would be awesome. I definitely want to get my hands on many of the books.

Would you be able to assist in helping me up to obtain product perhaps from some of these closed businesses? Or, perhaps point me in the right direction of where to find these books. My store is very new, it is in its early development. I am currently bringing in the inventory. I would like to have my doors open to a fully stocked store before the end of this year.

You can contact me at 909-272-2125.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Oh I missed this message.  Sure John can reach out to Noelle for advice, but she has not yet opened her store and I'm not sure when her store will open...

John please let us know when your store opens I'll be sure to add it to my database and share it with readers.

Unfortunately, I can't help you obtain inventory from these businesses--assuming any of it is still available.  Besides inventory,

you can probably learn quite a bit from any of the owners that you can reach. Good luck with you efforts

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I didn't even know there were 197 Black owned book stores IN America, let alone closing down!

Infact there are some on that list in the Detroit area that I didn't even know existed....lol.

You can add another one to that list as the Truth Book store in Northland (Southfield Michigan) has closed down.
I had left Detroit by the time it opened up, but I heard it was a regular hang-out for Pan Africanists and is sorely missed by the handful of Black nationalists in an otherwise middleclass Black community.


I agree with CD and have been saying for years that we need an AfroAmerican bookstore chain similar to Barnes and Noble or Chapters (Canada).

I've probably possessed enough books in my life to start my own book store.
But I've given away much of them to make room, I'm not a horder.
Perhaps I should have kept them and sold them.
You get tired of going over cat's homes only to see the SAME book you gave them 3 years ago sitting in the SAME spot you saw them put it when you handed it to them.....lol.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi @Pioneer1, thanks for the heads up about Truth Book Store.  They are in my database: https://aalbc.com/bookstores/store.php?store_name=The Truth Bookstore  but I've never visited the store.  Do you know what year the store closed?


During the peak there were perhaps several hundred independently owned Black book stores.  Harlem had several, now we have none,.the closest one is Sister's Uptown and many consider it outside of harlem.  


Maybe Black people simply do not value indie Black-owned bookstores--at least now enough for them to survive as viable business, as I discussed here.  Despite being named Literary Activist of the Year, I'm not getting rich over here.


The DMV (DC, MD, VA) had had a very popular and successful chain of Black owned bookstores called Karibu.  Authors Carl Weber owned a chain of stores too. , Neither are in operation today.  Again it is not clear to me, based upon our collective behavior, that Black people actually want a Black owned bookstore--let alone a chain.


White folks can go to any obscure little town and find an indie bookseller, sure they will have Colin Whitehead's book and a few others, but that is about it.  We have to go to Amazon to get everything else...

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