In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black people by police brutality, Americans have been on the hunt for knowledge about police abolition and Black lives. Amazon can be an easy, one-stop-shop for books on race and politics that can ship in the blink of an eye, but there are better options. Buying from Black-owned bookstores in the United States directly supports Black, marginalized communities and prioritizes their less-trafficked businesses when the community needs it the most.
Whether it’s to support bail funds or providing more knowledge for their local Black community, Black bookstores put their money directly back into the community. In other words, it’s giving money to your fellow man, not the pockets of Jeff Bezos.
Here are a dozen Black-owned bookstores in the United States with online stores that will ship books directly to your house or to your e-reader of choice, leaving you COVID free and more understanding of racial injustice
The Dock Bookshop (Dallas, TX)
The Dock Bookshop is one of the most popular, expansive Black bookstores in the country, providing everything from Bibles to thrillers on their bookshelves as well as other odds and ends like incense, journals and jewelry. Since 2008 Dock has prided itself on educating all customers through literature and their own spoken word events, author talks and panel discussions.
Books and Crannies (Martinsville, VA)
DeShanta Hairston founded Books and Crannies in 2016, wanting to share her own connection with books as a leisurely activity. Hairston opened the bookstore at a time where all major bookstores in Uptown Martinsville, Virginia, offering a wide selection of books, including $1 paperbacks. The bookstore also hosts open mic nights, book signings, and readings for children.
The Lit. Bar (The Bronx, NY)
Replacing the closed Barnes & Noble, the relatively new Lit. Bar opened in April 2019, with an on-site wine bar and offers works from underground artists. While the wine bar, where readers are encouraged to network and bond, may be struggling due to COVID-19, the bookstore still offers self-help books and selections from the late Nipsey Hussle’s reading list, all ready to order.
Eso Won Books (Los Angeles, CA)
Eso Won just recently opened their web store on June 3, so they are a bit behind on filling orders due to the large influx of orders, but are still shipping plenty of books written by Black Authors, non-fiction about the Black Panther Party, and graphic novels drawn by Black artists.
For Keeps Books (Atlanta, GA)
Located in one of the many cities staging daily protests in honor of Rayshard Brooks and others killed by police brutality, For Keeps Books prides itself on offering rare and essential books from Black authors, such as the hard-to-find Just Above My Head by James Baldwin.
Liberation Station Bookstore (Durham, NC)
After adding some of the many books about the African Diaspora that Liberation Station specializes in, consider tuning into the Juneteenth Virtual Storytime read by independent owner Victoria Scott-Miller. Liberation Station operates with a pop-up market concept, so unless you catch the independent bookstore in the wild, online is the best way to buy.
Tiny Books (Pittsburgh, PA)
With the most appropriate name possible, this 300-square-foot bookstore owned by Lea and Bill Bickerton sells bargain books, gifts, and bestselling novels through their online store, where a wider selection can be found if the store doesn’t have the novel at their physical location. Local shoppers can even grab their books through curbside pickup.
Frugal Bookstore (Roxbury, MA)
The Frugal Bookstore lets customers request books they don’t see in stock and order books in bulk. True to their “Changing Minds One Book At A Time” motto, the bookstore offers much of the recently popular literature on Black Lives Matter and intersectional feminism on the home page.
Harriet’s Bookshop (Philadelphia, PA)
Named after the Black abolitionist herself, Harriet Tubman, Harriet’s focuses on literature celebrating women artists, activists, and authors. Gift cards can be purchased for friends alongside books about modern life in America as a Black woman.
Source Booksellers (Detroit, MI)
Janet Webster Jones, owner of Source, has created a spiritual and educational safe space in Michigan, with books in stock about metaphysics right next Black liberation texts. If you’re craving something soothing, shea butter, raw snacks and chocolate can also be found in this Detroit-based gem.
Cafe Con Libros (Brooklyn, NY)
This intersectional feminist bookstore operated as an open, colorful space for female and nonbinary people to conversate and feel at-home. Although socializing isn’t exactly a thing right now because of COVID, buying their discounted best sellers tackling race, gender politics and Black liberation can help the bookstore, and coffee shop, stay alive for BIPOC to visit in the future.
Mahogany Books (Washington, DC)
Mahogany Books has a long history of selling online, operating solely through an online store for 10 years until 2017. Mahogany gives books back to local children in Washington DC through their Books for the Block program, so each dollar spent helps them educate another child in their area.
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