75 Black-Owned Bookstores to Buy from Today—and Every Day
Shop for your next great read (in person or online) at Black-owned bookstores across the country
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Support Black-owned bookstores
In recent years, allies have searched for ways to help and better understand the ongoing causes and effects of racism and racial disparity in the United States. Some have donated to organizations that support the Black Lives Matter movement. Others have tried to educate themselves on the issues by reading books about race relations in the United States. Many of those people have turned to books by Black authors to learn about systemic racism, police brutality, African American culture and racial injustice. And as both an act of solidarity with Black people and a concerted effort to put a dent in the racial wealth gap by supporting Black-owned businesses, many have purchased those books from Black-owned bookstores.
It’s important that people of all races patronize Black-owned bookstores, but proprietors like Derek Tompkins, who co-owns Kindred Thoughts in Bridgeport, Connecticut, say it’s crucial that African Americans are able to browse shelves that reflect them in a wide array of books—everything from the best books of all time to books by women and children’s books about diversity. That’s why, in Kindred Thoughts, he says, “you’re going to be able to explore people that look like you.”
But purchasing from an independent, Black-owned bookstore offers customers more than just a selection of books by and about people of color. Proprietors offer personalized, in-store experiences because they know their customers’ interests and can have conversations with them about the books they may enjoy. That’s an experience a major online retailer like Amazon can’t match. It is also very common for Black bookstores to spearhead book clubs and host cultural events that resonate with their communities.
To help you support your community, we’ve compiled a list of Black-owned bookstores in every state as well as Washington, D.C. But it is not comprehensive. And if there are no Black-owned bookstores in your area—or if you can’t visit the stores’ brick-and-mortar locations—you can make purchases through their websites or via Bookshop.org, an online bookseller dedicated to supporting independent bookstores.
You’ll find Arizona’s only Black-owned bookstore in Phoenix, and it’s a lot more than a simple little bookshop. Yes, you can purchase everything from hard-hitting nonfiction books like The New Jim Crow to bestselling children’s stories like Hair Love. But the store also has a community library and allows for book-swapping, and it helps fund grassroots activism, education and economic development efforts in the city.
- GrassRootz Books & Juice Bar, Phoenix
Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing in Little Rock originally opened in 1988 as a gallery dedicated to the appreciation of Black art and culture. The store now offers a range of books, art framing services, hanging services and events. Head here for must-read fiction for all ages, nonfiction, biographies, Black studies, and art and design tomes.
- Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing, Little Rock
You’ll find the country’s oldest Black-owned bookstore a short drive from San Francisco. Oakland’s Marcus Books, named for political activist Marcus Garvey, is known for hosting literary legends like Nikki Giovanni and other Black authors, and it engages patrons through book clubs and poetry readings. Hours south, the Inglewood-based Salt Eaters Bookshop is creating a Black feminist literary hub by prioritizing books, comics and zines by and about Black women, girls, femmes and nonbinary people. Head to Ashay By The Bay in Vallejo for the largest selection of African American and Spanish bilingual books for children.
Hartford-based book lovers are in luck: The Key Bookstore offers a membership savings program for its store and other local businesses. Customers can buy books from Key’s main location or from remote book bars housed within other Connecticut businesses. At Kindred Thoughts, one of the state’s other Black-owned bookstores, you’ll find great reads from best-selling authors as well as self-published books worthy of your shelves, like Pearl and Her Gees Bend Quilt by Tangular R. Irby, a Connecticut-based children’s author who co-owner Tompkins knows and wants to support.
He sees bookshops like his as essential for reflecting the diversity of the community through the written word. “We focus on African American literature and cultural events. But we also have white authors. We have Indigenous Americans. We have LatinX authors. We have everything,” says Tompkins. “I like to note that we are in the middle of the East End of Bridgeport [an ethnically diverse neighborhood], so if you come in here and you’re looking for something that’s going to reflect you as a person in this community, you’ll see it.”
Since 1998, MeJah Books has been a book marketplace, a community gathering place and a showcase for works by authors throughout the African diaspora. You’ll find everything from nonfiction centered on Black history to children’s books and even African-themed adult coloring books. Good news for residents of the Keystone State: There’s also a Chester, Pennsylvania, location.
- MeJah Books, Claymont
To truly immerse yourself and explore African culture, make time for a visit to Best Richardson African Diaspora Literature & Culture Museum. The museum houses both educational artifacts and information on African diaspora literary and cultural history, while the bookstore features rare and old books authored by people of African descent. For titles on an array of Afrocentric topics (and sponsored book fairs and conferences), head to Pyramid Books. Or browse, relax and spend a little time at Kizzy’s Books & More, which uses its book selection—spanning everything from romance to self-help books—to embrace African American culture.
- Best Richardson African Diaspora Literature & Culture Museum, St. Augustine
- Pyramid Books, Boynton Beach
- Kizzy’s Books & More, Winter Garden
Next time you’re in Atlanta, don’t miss the three stellar Black-owned bookstores in the city. The owners of 44th & 3rd Bookseller promise customers “books that represent the richness, diversity and genius of Black expression and our collective and individual history,” which means you’ll find everything from classic fiction to children’s books and graphic novels.
And proving bookstores do more than sell books, The Listening Tree in Decatur, which caters to children, also runs book clubs, sponsors an entrepreneurs program that teaches children and teens how to own and operate their own businesses, and offers access to a parent-controlled, members-only virtual classroom.
Need another reason to buy from an independent bookstore instead of Amazon? Consider the good bookshops do for the community. Semicolon Bookstore and Gallery in Chicago is a Black-woman-owned bookstore with a mission to raise literacy rates. Each month, Chicago Public School students are invited to the store to “clear the shelves” and take home the children’s books they want at no cost. And Afriware Books in Maywood is both a bookstore and resource center. It hosts virtual events, such as book signings, book launches and author celebrations, and is also the site of in-store Black art exhibitions.
Beyond Barcodes Bookstore in Kokomo is an indie bookstore, café and language learning center all in one. The store is home to the Reading Beyond Racism Bookclub, designed to encourage reading and conversation about all forms of racism, and Black Scribble, a writing club for Black boys that furthers a love of the written word. Another shop helping everyone—especially children and teens—cultivate a love of reading? Brain Lair Books in South Bend, which selects inclusive books that reflect diverse experiences, including those from Native American, Asian American and Latinx authors.
Amber Collins, who owns Soul Book Nook in Waterloo, opened her doors in 2020 with the goal of offering books that are representative of the entire community. She’s doing that by increasing local access to BIPOC titles and authors as well as other creatives. The store holds book signings, allows local schools and colleges to hold lectures there and empowers art teachers, who give students hands-on painting lessons using the store’s windows as their canvasses.
Collins says people should buy from Black-owned bookstores because those purchases can help reduce disparities in commerce. “The more African American businesses, especially women-owned, are supported … [the more] it helps level the playing field, and in turn, [Black business owners] can invest in our communities,” she says.
- Soul Book Nook, Waterloo
When the owners of Wild Fig Books and Coffee decided to close the shop in 2018, the community that relied on the store had other ideas. Now owned by a cooperative, Kentucky’s only Black bookstore offers books along with a co-working space, food specials, open mic nights, poetry readings, drag queen story times and small concerts.
- Wild Fig Books and Coffee, Lexington
Umoja Books is the place to go to support Black creators. It sells books by African Americans along with items produced by African Americans, including T-shirts, herbal supplements and personal care products. Members of the historically Black Greek-letter organizations, known collectively as the Divine Nine, can also find paraphernalia here.
- Umoja Books, Lafayette
Founded by a Black and queer bookseller, Loyalty Bookstore highlights diverse voices and hosts diverse events. It’s the place to go for LGBTQ books, but you’ll find stationery and gifts here too. And no worries if you live in Washington, D.C., but don’t want to trek to Silver Spring: There’s a location in the city as well.
- Loyalty Bookstore, Silver Spring
The owners of Frugal Bookstore in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston are book lovers who want to promote literacy across age groups. With that in mind, they promise to special order any books customers want but don’t see in stock.
- Frugal Bookstore, Boston
Books are in Janet Webster Jones’s blood. The owner of Detroit’s Source Booksellers, she’s a retired Detroit Public Schools educator and the daughter of a librarian. She’s created a haven where customers can buy an array of books—from memoirs and hard-hitting nonfiction to cookbooks and children’s fiction—alongside fair-trade chocolates, world maps, oils and incense, shea butter products and raw snacks.
Further proving bookstores sell more than just good reads is Detroit Book City in Southfield, which offers rare, hard-to-find and out-of-print African American books, candles, DVDs, games and even African body oils and soaps. And each year, the store hosts family book expos that feature local and national authors alike.
Black Garnet is a Black-woman-owned pop-up bookstore serving Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The shop specializes in the sale of adult and young adult contemporary literature by Black and racially diverse authors.
- Black Garnet, Minneapolis and Saint Paul
Head to Wonders of the World Book and Toy Store for children’s books about diversity, kids’ books featuring diverse characters, comics and graphic novels, and more. If you’re an audiobook listener but want to support your local bookshop, you’re in luck: The store partners with Libro.fm. It also features products for or by people of color.
- Wonders of the World Book and Toy Store, Gulfport
In University City, husband-and-wife duo Pamela and Jeffrey Blair opened EyeSeeMe African American children’s bookstore because of their experiences raising four high-achieving children. It’s the only children’s bookstore dedicated to African American history and promoting positive African American images while advocating for academic excellence. And it’s the place to visit for fiction and nonfiction books for kids that center diverse narratives. Over in Kansas City, Bliss Books & Wine caters to book lovers and wine enthusiasts. The store operates an online bookstore (you can buy audiobooks and e-books here too), virtual author events and monthly virtual book discussions, along with occasional pop-up events.
La Unique African American Bookstore & Cultural Center in Camden was born out of the owner’s desire to create a unique educational and cultural experience for the community. In addition to books, musical instruments, paintings and exhibits of African sculptures, the center houses the Poets Den, where nationally acclaimed jazz musicians and award-winning poets provide readings and music. For families with kids, head over to The Little Boho Bookshop. It’s the brainchild of a onetime publishing industry executive who wanted to “make reading fun again.” The store focuses on books for children, preteens and young adults.
If you live in New York, you’re in luck: There are several stellar Black-owned bookstores in the state, like The Lit. Bar, the only brick-and-mortar bookstore in the Bronx and a place to find all sorts of books, from romance novels to antiracism must-reads. And no, they’re not all in the Big Apple. There’s Cerebral Kingdom, the only Black-owned bookstore in Rochester, which is home to books about African and African American history and spirituality. And there’s Zawadi Books in Buffalo, where owners Sharon and Kenneth Holley sponsor author readings, book discussions, book signings and storytelling.
Books that reflect Black children and families are particularly important for young readers, a fact the owners of Liberation Station Bookstore know well. Opened by two Black parents who had a difficult time finding books with narratives that centered children like their two sons, the Raleigh-Durham shop sells books featuring characters of color. They also created Lit Library, a safe reading space for children of color, as an extension of Liberation Station. Live in the Charlotte area instead? Hit up Shelves, an online and mobile pop-up bookstore that features virtual events and a book subscription service, or The Urban Reader, which offers a personalized book-buying and mailing service.
Black bookstores prove booksellers want to do more than make a living—they want to make a difference too. Take, for instance, Rachel E. Cargle, who founded Elizabeth’s Bookshop & Writing Centre to help reshape the way customers view themselves and the world. A percentage of the store’s proceeds support the work of The Loveland Foundation, which provides free therapy for Black women, girls and gender-nonconforming people. Not sure where to start? Shop the store’s list of banned books for stories that deserve a read. And at Smith & Hannon Bookstore, the only black-owned bookstore in Cincinnati, the proprietor, a retired educator, uses the bookstore to shine a spotlight on African American authors.
The owners of Tulsa’s two Black bookstores are committed to spotlighting works by people of color. The founder of Fulton Street Books & Coffee has made it her mission to increase intergenerational literacy and is committed to ensuring that 70% of the books the store sells were written by or feature Black people, people of color or marginalized groups. Mocha Books started in 2017 as an online and pop-up bookshop with a mission “to change the narrative and amplify Black characters, stories and voices in literature.” Today, the store also has a brick-and-mortar location, complete with a reading room.
Third Eye Books, Accessories & Gifts sells books and practices cooperative economics by supporting community organizations. Whether you buy books online or by dropping into the store, you’ll find a selection of titles that span genres. Head here for everything from books about racism to bestselling fantasy novels by Black authors to health-focused books.
- Third Eye Books, Accessories & Gifts in Portland
Calling all comic book nerds! Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, the first Black-woman-owned comic book store on the East Coast, is a celebration of geek culture. Head here for your DC and Marvel fix, graphic novels and all your favorite comics. If historical fiction is more your style, visit Hakim’s Bookstore, the oldest Black-owned bookstore in Philly. The late scholar Dawud Hakim opened the store in the late 1950s and stocked it with books that exclusively addressed African American history and culture, which was rare at the time. Today, that tradition continues.
Turning Page Bookshop is the only African American–owned brick-and-mortar bookstore in the state. In addition to books, you’ll find games and puzzles. And thanks to a partnership with Libro.fm, you can buy audiobooks through the store too.
- Turning Page Bookshop, Goose Creek
Alkebu-Lan Images offers customers books about Black religion, history and philosophy as well as other goods, such as jewelry, art and clothing that highlight Black and African culture. In the spirit of the Kwanzaa principle of Ujima, the principle of collective work and responsibility, the store buys and sells products from other Black-owned businesses.
- Alkebu-Lan Images, Nashville
When you shop at a Black-owned bookstore, you’re often getting more than diverse books. Many highlight history and culture, offering events to expand the mind and products by African and African American creators. That’s the case with Pan-African Connection Bookstore, Art Gallery and Resource Center. The shop opened its doors in 2000 to create a place for African Americans to learn about their history and to bring them closer to Africa. In addition to books, the store carries African art, clothing and jewelry. You’ll find more events, including discussions with authors, at Black Pearl Books, The Dock Bookshop and Enda’s Booktique, which was founded by an educator and centers on books for women.
- Pan-African Connection Bookstore, Art Gallery and Resource Center, Oak Cliff
- Black Pearl Books, Austin
- The Dock Bookshop, Forth Worth
- Enda’s Booktique, Duncanville
The owners of Harambee Books & Artworks aim to empower readers, and they’re doing that by providing access to products and services by and about people of African descent. In addition to selling books and art through the Imani Art Gallery, Harambee also spearheads Barbershop Readers, a community-based literacy program designed to encourage young boys to read through the creation of child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops. Elsewhere in the state, Books and Crannies, which sells adult, young adult and children’s books, is doing its part to encourage kids to read with virtual children’s book readings and all-ages fun, like book signings and poetry events.
In Washington, one Black-owned bookstore is newly opened and another is coming back from the brink of closing. Two sisters and their cousin opened Tacoma-based Parable during the COVID-19 pandemic to sell books, plants, records and art as well as host events. And in Seattle, L.E.M.S. Cultural Center and Bookstore for Life Enrichment launched a successful crowdfunding campaign that has allowed the historic establishment to keep its doors open. That’s a good thing: The store focuses on African and African American culture and literature, with a mission to unite people of all backgrounds by providing a space for events and educational classes.
- Parable, Tacoma
- L.E.M.S. Cultural Center and Bookstore for Life Enrichment, Seattle
Based in Washington, D.C., Mahogany Books, Loyalty Bookstore (the sister of Loyalty Bookstore in Silver Spring, Maryland) and Sankofa Video, Books & Café are three of many Black-owned bookstores in the country with both brick-and-mortar locations and online shopping. Pop in for a visit if you live in the area (Sankofa is located across the street from Howard University), or shop online if you’re from out of town. Between the three, you’ll find books in pretty much every genre: mystery books, thrillers, romance, short stories, humor, religion and more.
Cetonia Weston, creator of The Black Author’s Collective, always wondered why it was so hard to find Black literature. To solve the problem in her own city, she opened Niche Book Bar, which showcases Black books. And because nothing goes with a good book better than some sips, the shop offers in-store coffee, tea, baked goods and wine. The owner of Itty Bitty Bookstore had a similar representation in mind, creating a (gorgeously designed) place for people in the community to see themselves represented, celebrated and embraced.
Not all bookstores have brick-and-mortar locations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t support them virtually. Loving Me Books, for instance, is an online bookstore for children and teens that specializes in stories that represent people of color. And Sistah Scifi is the place to go for Afrofuturism and books written by Black women. You’ll find everything from Black mysticism, science fiction noir and traditional voodoo to audiobooks, comics and other items.