Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why African American Bookstores Close

Top Ten Reasons Why African American Bookstores Are Closing
  1. Book sales migrated to the Internet 
    Most Black bookstores failed to take advantage of this trend. According to WebPro News, books are the #1 item people purchase online. Other brick-and-mortar chains, such as Blockbuster, also were flanked by their online competition, so this trend is not exclusive to bookstores.  
  2. Price competition 
    The advent of Internet sales ushered deep discounting on books. Because large online sites like, Amazon and Wal-Mart, are able to take advantage of volume discounts, Black bookstores could not match these discounted prices and, if they tried to, they were unable to maintain profitability.  
  3. Failure to diversify
    With the advent of price competition and Internet book sales, diversification into other product lines was the only way Black bookstores stood a chance of maintaining viability. Most did not make this adjustment fast enough and some didn't make it at all.  
  4. African American sections added to stores like Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, WaldenBooks and Borders
    Black consumers urged the major chains to include African American sections in their stores. Once this occurred, most Black consumers flocked to these stores for their purchases and kicked the Black bookstores to the curb. (See reason #5)  
  5. Lack of loyalty from consumers
    African American consumers do not have a tradition of loyalty to Black-owned establishments. If they can purchase the same products at a white-owned (Asian-owned, or any non-black owned) establishment, they will do so FIRST. The vast majority will only shop at a black-owned establishment if they have no choice -- if they are unable to obtain a much-desired item elsewhere. This is the primary reason why dollars leave our community so rapidly, while other ethnic groups have loyalty to their merchants and turn dollars multiple times.  
  6. Black Expressions Book Club 
    Owned by Doubleday, Black Expressions Book Club has the financial resources to advertise in every major Black magazine in America. They offer 4 books for $1 to African American consumers if they agree to purchase X number of books over a two-year period. They now have 460,000+ Black readers as members and these individuals obtain many of their books this way, rather than shop at brick-and-mortar bookstores. A lot of the members of the club actually believe it is Black-owned, when it most definitely is not.  
  7. Unprofitable locations 
    Many of the Black-owned bookstores are located in predominantly Black neighborhoods. The reading population of Black consumers tends to be middle-class and these people tend to live in suburban areas and mixed-raced communities. The bookstores are not in proximity to their most likely clientele.  
  8. Poor management
    Many people who opened Black bookstores did so because they had a passion for literature, but not necessarily because they had good business and management skills. A business requires experienced management in order to be successful. It also requires sacrifice -- one has to reinvest dollars into their business for the long-term, especially during the early years, and not take money out of the business for personal "bling."  
  9. Tough economic times
    When the economy goes into a recession, the firms in the weakest position are among the many casualties. Many of the black-owned bookstores were already barely hanging on when the economy took a nose-dive in 2008. With limited financing and a dwindling clientele, they simply had no choice but to close their doors.  
  10. Lack of commitment from owners
    Business ownership is not for the faint of heart and requires a tremendous commitment. Recessions will come and go, but if the commitment is there, the entrepreneur will find a way to adjust with the environment. It may be painful during the tough times, but faith, ingenuity, a willingness to be innovative and stay abreast of the industry will lead to ultimate success. To survive, these stores must figure out how to remain relevant.
Two out of 3 black bookstores that were in business just a few years ago are now closed.   The list include:

A & B Distributors - Brooklyn, NY
African & Islamic Books Plus - Cleveland, OH
African American Books and Publishing - Baltimore, MD
African American Gift Gallery - Knoxville, TN
African American Heritage Book - West Palm Beach, FL
African Artisans - Baldwin, NY
African Book Store - Fort Lauderdale, FL
African Heritage Books & Gifts - San Francisco, CA
African House Institute of Learning - Jersey City, NJ
African Marketplace - Los Angeles, CA
Afro Books - Atlanta, GA
Afrocentric Book Store - Chicago, IL
Afrocentric Books & Cafe - St. Louis, MO
Alkebulan Books - Berkeley, CA
Amen-Ra's Bookstore and Gallery - Tallahassee, FL
Arawak Books - Hyattsville, MD
Ascension Books - Columbia, MD
Asiatic the Soul of Black Folks - Toronto, ON
Atlantic Bookpost - Reston, VA
B.T.S. Unlimited Books - Detroit, MI
Baruti-Ba Books - Dayton, OH
Bishari Urban Books, Phoenix Crossing Shopping Center - , NC
Black Book Discounters - Houston, TX
Black By Popular Demand - Hyattsville, MD
Black Classics - Books & Gifts - Mobile, AL
Black Images Book Bazaar - Dallas, TX
Black Spring Books - Vallejo, CA
Black Swan Books & Coffee - Kohler, WI
Blacknificent Books & More - Raleigh, NC
Blackprint Heritage Gallery - New Haven, CT
Book House Cafe & Gifts - Benton Harbor, MI
Books In Color - North Highlands, CA
Books in the Black - Columbia, SC
Bright Lights Children's Bookstore - Inglewood, CA
Brother's Books - Seattle, WA
Carol's Essentials Ethnic Gifts and Books - Seattle, WA
Celebrate - Peachtree City, GA
Crescent Office Store - East Orange, NJ
Cultural Bookstore  - Chicago, IL
Cultural Expression - Newport News, VA
D & J Book Distributors - Laurelton, NY
Da Book Joint - Chicago, IL
DARE Books & Educational Supplies - Brooklyn, NY
DeesBookNook Distributors - So. Richmond Hills, NY
Dorothea's African-American Books and Gifts - Columbia, SC
Drum and Spear Books - Washington, DC
Dygnyti Books - Hamden, CT
Dynasty Bookstore, Eastland Mall - Charlotte, NC
EDEN Books - Hartford, CT
Education 2000+ Bookstore - Long Beach, CA
Education Central, Sunny Isle Shopping Plaza - St. Croix,
Ethnic Elegance - Jacksonville, FL
Exhale African American Books & Gifts - Sugar Land, TX
Faith To Faith Books  - Minneapolis, MN
Forewords Books & Gifts, Located in Originations Gallery - Ann Arbor, MI
Freedom Now Bookstore - Decatur, GA
Gene's Books - King of Prussia, PA
Haneef's Bookstore and Mosi Art Gallery - Wilmington, DE
Heritage Bookstore and More - Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Heritage House - Charlotte, NC
Imagine This! Books Etc. - Memphis, TN
IronWood Corner - Pasadena, CA
Jamaicaway Books & Gifts - Boston, MA
Kana CDs & Books - Columbus, Ohio [Owner Cedric Reed closed the store in 2008 and cntinued Operation on-line until 2009]
Karibu Books - Hyattsville, MD, (6 Locations)
Know Thyself, Bookstore and Cultural Development Center - Philadelphia, PA
Kongo Square Gallery - Los Angeles, CA
LaCeter's Book Service - Southfield, MI
Liberation Bookstore - New York, NY
Ligorius Bookstore Inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Living Room Book & Pastry - Greensboro, NC
Lodestar Books - Birmingham, AL
Love Christian Book Store - Orlando, FL
Mahogany Books - Detroit, MI
Mahogany Books & Gifts - Fairfield, AL
Matais Books Cards & Art - Long Beach, CA
Mind & Soul Bookstore, Inc. - Trenton, NJ
MochaReaders - Dayton, OH [Owner Rhonda Bogan thought long and hard about tough decision of closing store in 2011]
Montsho BookFairs, Etc., Inc. - Orlando, FL
Mt. Zion Kid's Village, Little Angels Children's Bookstore - Jonesboro, GA
Nefertiti's Books and Gifts  - Jacksonville, FL
Nimde Books - Louisville, KY
Nu World of Books - Beaumont, TX
Off The Shelf African American Books - Columbia, SC
One Force Books - Richmond, VA
Our Black Heritage - New York, NY
Out of Africa, Windsor Park Mall - San Antonio, TX
Paperback Connection - Oklahoma City, OK
Paradise Book Store - Peoria, AZ
Peek-A-Boo Books II, Wheaton Mall - Wheaton, MD
People's Books & Gifts - Springfield, OH
Phenix Information Center - San Bernardino, CA
PowerHouse Books - Hopkins, SC
Precious Memories Reading and Collectibles - Richmond, VA
Rainbow Books & Blooms - Yorktown Heights, NY
Reading Room Bookstore  - Chicago, IL
Roots & Wings: A Cultural Bookplace  - Montgomery, AL
Sacred Thoughts Bookstore - Jersey City, NJ
Sensational Minds - Savannah, GA
Serengeti Plains  - Montclair, NJ
Shades of Sienna - Oakland, CA
Sidewalk University - Memphis, TN
Soul Source Bookstore - Atlanta, GA
Special Occasions - Winston-Salem, NC
Stouffville Book Connection Inc - Stouffville, ON
TDIR Books - Columbia, SC
Tenaj Books & Gift Gallery - Fort Pierce, FL
The Black Bookworm - Fort Worth, TX
The Black Library - Boston, MA
The Book House Café, LGBT Books - Oakland, CA
The Book Lovers Lounge - Lauderdale Lakes, FL
The Cultural Connection Bookstore  - Milwaukee, WI
The Heritage Center - Vicksburg, MS
The Know Bookstore - Durham, NC
The Living Word Bookstore - Chicago, IL
The Presence of Africans In the Bible Book Center - Minneapolis, MN
The Reading Room Bookstore - Atlanta, GA
The Roots Book Store, Inside of Tapers Hair Care - Baton Rouge, LA
Too-No Books Etc. - Moss Point, MS
Treasures of the Mind Bookstore - St. Louis, MO
Tricia's Books N' Things - Houston, TX
Truth Boutique & Bookstore, Eastland Mall #823 - Harper Woods, MI
Tunde Dada House of Africa - Orange, NJ
Tunde Dada House of Africa, Green Acres Mall - Valley Stream, NY
Two Friends Bookstore - Atlanta, GA
Uhuru Books - Minneapolis, MN
Under One Roof Afrikan American Bookstore - Killeen, TX
W&W African American Art, Specializing in Books & Gift Items, Etc. - Fayetteville, NC
X-pression Bookstore & Gallery - Indianapolis, IN
Yawa Books - Washington, DC
Yehudah Inc. - Teaneck, NJ
Zawadi Gift Shop - Brooklyn, NY

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading this list from Mrs. Richardson. I was and will continue to support black book stores. I will also be opening one of my own, but it will not be all black books. I will be taking over a small store from a white couple who is retiring. I am blessed in this adventure because I got the business and management experience from working over 30 years, so i know it will be a struggle. I got lots of faith and will not give up. Black kindle blog. Thanks