There are countless ways you can show up for the Black community, including protesting police brutality; donating to bail funds and mutual aid funds; signing petitions to get justice for the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others; having conversations with non-Black friends and family who still have a lot to learn about race; and supporting Black-owned businesses. When you shop at Black-owned bookstores, you can put your money to good use while picking up educational or just plain entertaining books.
Whether you're looking to bolster your knowledge about race and privilege (check out How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi) or you're in the market for an uplifting romance (hi, it's You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson), Black-owned bookstores stock an array of fiction and non-fiction. Some stores double as coffee shops, bars, and art galleries; most host events ranging from book signings to book clubs to open mic nights.
Below, you'll find 22 Black-owned bookstores across the country, in both big cities and small towns, organized alphabetically. These stores can be shopped online, and they're well worth an IRL visit when they re-open following closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. While it's great to support your local indie Black-owned bookstore now, don't stop at a one-time purchase. Your solidarity with these stores shouldn't be a flash-in-the-pan trend; these stores are crucial pillars of their local communities.
As DeShanta Hairston, owner and founder of Books and Crannies in Martinsville, Virginia, tweeted on June 2, "Can you imagine, I refrained from putting black owned in my bio for years in fear of losing out on potential white customers? Well I am indeed black and this is my store and I will be screaming it from the mountain tops moving forward."
Keep reading for more on Hairston's store, plus plenty of others.
1. AfriWare Books
2. Black Pearl Books
3. Black Stone Bookstore and Cultural Center
4. Books & Crannies
5. Brain Lair Books
6. Cafe Con Libros
7. Detroit Book City
8. Eso Won Books
9. Fulton Street Books
10. Frugal Bookstores
11. Harriett's Bookstore
12. Loyalty Bookstore
14. Pyramid Books
15. Semicolon Bookstore & Gallery
This bookstore-gallery hybrid, which is Black woman-owned, is the only business of its kind in Chicago — and its mission is “nurturing the connection between literature, art, and the pursuit of knowledge” while also “using the power of words” to “better their community.” Scope out their online store’s curated lists, which range from “Stay Woke” to “The Book is Better” (a list of novels that were later adapted into TV shows and movies).
16. Sistah Scifi
This magical woman-owned bookstore’s specialty is Afro-futurism and mysticism, and that includes traditional voodoo as well as straight-up science fiction. Sistah Scifi, based in Seattle, Washington, is dedicated exclusively to Black female writers, and the shop also includes a wide array of merch from T-shirts to tote bags.
17. Sisters Uptown
As the oldest Black-owned bookstore in Manhattan, Sister’s Uptown prides itself on showcasing African-American and Latinx authors. Recently, staff curated a “Consciousness Reading Book Guide” to help “educate, empower and help both allies and POC KINfolk alike navigate these dark times.”
18. Source Booksellers
While this Detroit, Michigan shop has a solid selection of fiction, Source Booksellers specializes in non-fiction books on everything from history to spirituality to health. They even have a selection of books specifically by and about women — which makes sense, since it’s owned by the daughter of a librarian, Janet Webster Jones.
19. The Lit. Bar
Noëlle Santos, the owner of this hip bookshop-meets-wine bar, is not only an Afro-Latina millennial but also a Bronx native. She launched the Bronx, New York's only bookstore on National Indie Bookstore Day in 2019. The shop's site features a curated list of Santos’ current favorite reads, as well as a list of must-reads revolving around societal privilege and other issues called “Dear White People.”
20. Turning Page Bookshop
A year ago, best friends Valinda Miller and Arrylee Satterfield opened Turning Page Bookshop in Goose Creek, South Carolina as a way to “spread their love for a good book and give back to their community.” In addition to their wide selection of Black fiction, autobiographies, cookbooks, and young adult novels, you can also shop their audiobooks via Libro.fm.
21. Uncle Bobbie’s
The bookshelves are packed with Black literature at this charming Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shop, which was opened by CNN and Fox commentator Marc Lamont Hill. Uncle Bobbie’s has their IndieLite and Libro.fm accounts active so you can shop for both physical books as well as audiobooks online. They also launched a GoFundMe campaign amid the coronavirus pandemic, with all donations going towards providing financial relief to staff, and paying vendors and bills so the business can survive.
22. Wild Fig Books
This isn’t just a place to pick up a new page-turner — it’s also a coffee shop and event space, and it remains the only Black-owned bookstore in the state of Kentucky. Wild Fig was founded by local writer Crystal Wilkinson and her partner Ronald Davis, and it endeavors to be “an inclusive, grounding space where community members find their voice and collective vision.”