Shopping at one of these Black-owned bookstores is a great way to support your local community, promote reading and writing, and give back all at once.

By Kelly Vaughan
June 03, 2020
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Whether you're stocking up on books to stay busy during the coronavirus pandemic or you're actively looking for more ways to support the Black community in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, one easy thing you can do is buy books from Black-owned bookstores. From offering children's books and adult novels that celebrate Black culture to promoting Black authors who've written everything from contemporary fiction to memoirs, there's an inspiring, eye-opening, and educational read on the shelves of each of these 13 Black-owned bookstores.

Of course, there are many more Black-owned bookshops across the country than just the ones that we've listed here. While most are still closed due to COVID-19, you can purchase books through individual online shops or shop via Bookshop.org, an online book retailer that supports independent bookstores everywhere. Ten to thirty percent of all book sales made on Bookshop.org go directly to independent bookstores. So, next time you want to pick up a new read, make your purchase with one of these Black-owned bookshops.

The Lit. Bar in Bronx, New York

Founder Noëlle Santos created a social space for reading and drinking wine at The Lit. Bar in the Bronx. Santos selects and stocks a wide variety of books that highlight diverse voices for all ages. Her goal is to increase intellectual visibility for the Bronx's nearly 1.5 million residents.

MahoganyBooks in Washington, D.C.

What began as an online shop ultimately turned into an award-winning independent bookstore in our nation's capital. Today, MahoganyBooks proudly promotes reading, writing, and cultural awareness in their local community.

Semicolon Bookstore in Chicago, Illinois

As of its opening in 2019, Semicolon was the only bookstore owned by a Black woman in Chicago. The store's mission is to use the power of words to better the surrounding community. On their shelves, 80 percent of the current stock is written by an African-American author and 73 percent are books written by women. While their store is currently closed due to COVID-19, you can shop their offerings via Bookshop.

Marcus Books in Oakland, California

The oldest Black-owned bookstore in the country is Marcus Books. "At Marcus Books, literature is cherished as an invaluable asset to build cultural competency and intellectual awareness, and Black makers of literature and art are our heroes," says team member Hank Oliver. Currently, they are accepting orders over the phone for curbside pickup or nationwide shipping.

Hakim's Bookstore in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Hakim's Bookstore, Philadelphia's oldest Black-owned bookstore, was founded in 1959 by Dawud Hakim. The store is now owned by his daughter, Yvonne Blake, who aims to promote Black history and culture through their stock. Shop here.

Eso Won Books in Los Angeles, California

Thirty years ago, James Fugate and Thomas Hamilton opened the doors to this L.A.-based shop to provide books written by, or about, Black people. Today, their mission remains the same today. You can visit their online shop to order.

Source of Knowledge in Newark, New Jersey

From hosting Saturday afternoon bookclubs in person and via Zoom to offering a wide selection of African-American art, books, and gifts, Source of Knowledge has established a community that promotes Black culture and literature. While their store is currently closed, you can call to order.

Ashay By The Bay in Vallejo, California

Looking for books and educational materials featuring Black characters and authors that are geared towards children? You can shop the extensive collection of African-American and multi-cultural children's books from Ashay By The Bay online.

Uncle Bobbie's Coffee and Books in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Founded in 2017 by Marc Lamont Hill, an author, activist, and professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, Uncle Bobbie's Coffee and Books is much more than a bookstore—it also operates as a coffee bar, bistro, and lounge for locals and college students.

Pyramid Books in Boynton Beach, Florida

Located just south of Palm Beach, Pyramid Books has specialized in promoting African-American books since 1993. Their mission is to celebrate Black History Month 365 days a year by focusing on African-centered and African diaspora literature.

Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury, Massachusetts

Frugal Bookstore, which is located just outside of Boston, has one goal, according to their website: "Changing minds one book at a time." Their selection of books range from bestsellers to a children's guide to African-American literature to poems written by Black women.

The Dock Bookshop in Fort Worth, Texas

The Dock Bookshop is the largest African-American, family-owned and operated bookstore in Texas and the greater Southwest region. It was founded in 2008 and continues to elevate Black voices, music, and literature through the brick-and-mortar location, online shop, and radio app.

Sister's Uptown Bookstore in New York, New York

Located in Washington Heights, Janifer Wilson and Kori Wilson founded a bookstore and community resource center where "knowledge is key." The mother-daughter team recently celebrated their 20th anniversary of Sister's Uptown Bookstore and continue to discover and promote African-American, Latinx, and other minority authors and intellectuals. You can shop their collection here.

Comments (1)

Anonymous
June 4, 2020
Little Boho Bookshop Bayonne NJ.