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Black Book Websites Need Love More Than Ever


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Back in March of 2011 I wrote a article attempting to raise awareness about the struggles Black Book Websites.  This was in direct reaction to the unexpected and total beat down Google just gave us. as I described in this forum.  I did not mention the abrupt and dramatic drop in AALBC.com's traffic from Google search because I did not yet understand that it was not my fault, and I was ashamed of my perceived failure.


Again, I'd brought into the assumption that if you fail at SEO (search engine optimization) or SMM (social media Marketing) that the problem was with you.  I understand today that this is not true and that excellent businesses are penalized by Google simply because they are Google's competition (this is essence of the $2.7B fine the EU levied against Google).


The article, Black Book Websites Need Love Too argues about the importance of Black book websites.  For over 15 years, I've maintained and shared list of other Black book websites  I was a very labor intensive to publish the information because I had to look up the new information, resort the information on the webpage; it took a few hours.  As a result, months would go by between updates.  I was shocked when I noticed during the update I performed in March 2011 that 20% of the websites had gone away! I wrote;


"... I feel it is time to emphasize why websites dedicated to Black books are just as important as physical stores.  If these websites are taken for granted they too will disappear, and we will have lost another important platform for celebrating and showcasing books by and about people of African descent."




The websites pictured in the graphic above were some of the most prominent Black book websites. Unfortunately my words did not seem to have much of impact.  By October of 2015 I was prompted to post an article on this discussion forum, Black Book Websites Going, Going.... 

(Note: By 2015 I know Google subordinated my discussion forum posts to Blog posts in search engine ranking, but I wanted to leverage the power of my community. I was really very interested in working on removing our collective dependency on Google.  Today, sadly, I know that goal was unrealistic, but I still have not given up--hence articles like this one to raise awareness).


I updated the graphic from 4 years earlier and greyed out the all of the sites that had shut down.  Fully 25% of the websites I'd been tracking had shut down including the majority of the most prominent ones I identifies 4 years earlier.




Exasperated I wrote,


"...I feel like I'm the only nut running around complaining. Turning into an old curmudgeon, bitching about the way things used to be...

Of course I appreciate that I run one of these websites so I'm far more sensitive to this issue than most.  But there are still readers out there right?  Don't they miss these websites?   I know I do."


Today, because of the AALBC.com's upgrade, my list list of Black book websites is stored in a database and updates can actually be performed automatically, saving me hours of effort, and publishing the information in virtually realtime.  I execute the process manually to check the output and look for bugs.  When I ran the update yesterday (6/27/2017) I noticed that the list of sites was starting to grow thin because too many were failing to meet my minimal criteria for inclusion, which was to have an Alexa rank.


Alexa (owned by Amazon), is an imperfect way to rank website.  I say imperfect because unless you volunteer to give them your traffic data they can only estimate your site's traffic (I do not give them my traffic stats).  I used Alexa long before Amazon purchased them to essentially capture the site that were essentially working hard enough to get the minimal amount of traffic to earn an Alexa ranking.  I did not want to indiscriminately share every website the Alexa ranking also gave me an easy way to rank the websites.


Previously (before 6/27/17) sites without an Alexa rank were excluded from my list. Because the list was starting to get short and because the additional exposure and link from AALBC.com might might these sites.  I decided to remove the Alexa ranking restriction which resulting in the additional of more than 20 new sites to the webpage. SItes without an Alexa rank are assigned a rank of 30,000,000 (I think Alexa ranks on the top 30 million websites).  I quickly discovered more than half of these newly added sites were no longer active!  


As far as I'm concerned we are in a crisis situation as far as our representation on the web.  


Now I know some people, new to the web, might say this can't be true look at the impact of "Black Twitter."  If you know how to work social media you can bring attention to yourself.  People who believe this have no clue what we've lost.  If they believe Facebook pages are a better alternative to what had we've ve lost more culturally than I can explain...


One day I hope to be able to write about how Black book websites and physical stores are thriving not just through the support from our community by through the support of those outside the community interested in learning and even supporting our culture.


Check out the websites on my list, and consider placing an order from them.  Sure you may need to pay a bit more, or wait a little longer to get the product than you would if you purchased it via Amazon, but you'll be making an investment in a businesses that support you, your culture and community.


AALBC.com currently sells books through affiliate relationships; selling books whose orders are fulfilled by of all the major retailers, independents, and even directly through publishers and authors.  AALBC.com generates commissions through most of these sales.  So if you've discovered a book you think you like here please purchase it through our site.


Authors, you must buy your books from indie booksellers (read this article).  The more you support us the more we can (and would want) to support you. That's a no brainer right?


In 2017 Black book website need lover more than ever.

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