Only 54 Black Owned Bookstores Remain in America

March 5, 2016 – 02:05 pm

Eso Eon BooksOur bookstores have closed for every reason under the sun. Many were started by people with a passion for literature but weak business skills and other have fallen prey to escalating rents and a dismal economy.

Perhaps a more pernicious reason, contributing to the closure of bookstores, is simply less demand for the product. There is mounting evidence that we, all Americans, are simply reading less.

The National Endowment for the Arts issued a report in 2004, Reading at Risk,
in which they warned us that, “…literary reading in America is not only declining among all groups, but the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young.”

It is not just bookstores that are suffering. Websites that focus on Black books are suffering. Attendance at book fairs, conferences and festivals are down as well. Some events have even been cancelled due to low registration.

While literary reading is declining in America, our own platforms are doing very little to indicate that books or the stories and information they contain are worthy of attention, or are important. Coverage of Black books in magazines and newspaper—even those intended for Black readers is miniscule and critical book reviews are virtually nonexistent.

La Unique African American Books & Cultural Center, Camden, NJ Opened in 1992Now books are clearly not the only way to relate stories or transfer information, but nothing available now, or on the horizon, appears capable of replacing what was lost.

If you believe in the importance of bookstores, which are dedicated to books by or about people of African descent, go out of your way to support one of the stores below.

Do we want to see an America where the ONLY place Black books can be purchased is from Amazon? Do we really want Amazon to have that responsibility—all by themselves?

If visiting an supporting a Black owned bookstore is physically impracticable here are a list of websites you can support, including this one,

Medu Bookstore, Greenbriar Mall – Atlanta, GA
The Shrine of the Black Madonna – Atlanta, GA


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