Hey, Why Don't You Buy Your Next Read from One of These Black-Owned Bookstores

Paulina Jayne Isaac
·7 mins read
Photo credit: Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books | Good Books
Photo credit: Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books | Good Books

From Cosmopolitan

If you're anything like me, then whenever you have the urge to buy a book, you head to the nearest Barnes & Noble or Target to peruse the latest bestsellers. Or if it's a particularly lazy day, you'll just go to Amazon because the two-day shipping is sooo convenient. But here's the thing: Have you ever considered how satisfying it might to spend your hard-earned cash at a small business? And given the #BlackLivesMatter movement happening right now, how important and impactful it could be to shop a Black-owned small business?

Lucky for you, my petite bookworm, there are plenty of Black-owned bookstores in major cities across the country. And since you're probably not hopping on a plane to Los Angeles or Austin just for the hell of it anytime soon, all the bookstores highlighted on this list allow you to shop online, meaning you don't even have to leave your comfy couch to let your wallet do the talking. So the next time you're about to hit "buy" on some big-box store's website, take a beat and look through this list of Black-owned bookstores instead.

Cafe con Libros

The self-proclaimed "intersectional feminist community bookstore and coffeeshop," located in Brooklyn, New York, offers caffeine and inclusive events along with their superb selection of reads. What more could you want?

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Sister's Uptown

Shop this Harlem-based bookstore/cultural center if you're looking for a wide variety of reads. From psychology books to memoirs, it really has ev-er-y-thing, including shelves upon shelves of books by BIPOC authors.

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Eso Won Books

Eso Won Books, in Los Angeles, is author Ta-Nehisi Coates' favorite bookstore and if you're like "Aw, that's nice...but, um, whomst is that?" please take a hiatus from peeping this list and go read Between the World and Me. BTW, the online inventory is different from what's actually available in the shop, mainly because the store itself is pretty tiny.

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People Get Ready

Please don't @ me, but I'm pretty sure this might just be Connecticut's cutest bookstore?! People Get Ready's mission is to sell books by authors from all different backgrounds: BIPOC, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, bi/multilingual, plus local authors and poets.

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Elizabeth's Bookshop & Writing Centre

Founded by Rachel Cargle (who you need to follow on Insta ASAP), this Akron, Ohio-based writing ~centre~ is powered by Bookshop to offer selections exclusively from marginalized authors AKA writers who have historically been excluded from cultural, social, and academic arenas. And if you need another reason to drop some cash, a percentage of all the proceeds go to The Loveland Foundation, whose mission is to make mental healthcare accessible for Black women and girls.

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Mocha Books Bookstore

Arguably one of the best parts of bookstore browsing is sipping a hot drink while getting lost in the stacks. But unfortunately until COVID-19 is under control, this ritual is not really an option. Enter: Mocha Books, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and their virtual shopping experiences. Just sign up on their website and prepare to feel like you're actually in the store. Magic!

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For Keeps Bookstore

For Keeps in Atlanta, Georgia, is quite literal about their name—their books sell out fast. A lot of their titles aren't available right now, but don't worry. They'll restock their selection again soon.

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Good Books

The mother-daughter-owned pop-up bookstore (and online shop) was founded on the idea that "All Black books are good books." They're based in Atlanta, but can ship books from their wide selection of vintage, acclaimed, and obscure titles to every state.

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AfriWare Books

AfriWare, a bookstore, gift shop, and cultural event center in Maywood, Illinois, makes shopping for a new read super simple. With categories like "suicide awareness" and "natural hair," you can find whatever genre your heart desires in just a matter of clicks. They also sell merch, hair products, and DVDs...you know, for the people who still have DVD players.

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Semicolon Bookstore

A Black woman-owned bookstore and gallery space in the vibrant city of Chicago, Illinois, that aims to better their community through the ~power of words~? I can't help but stan.

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Frugal Bookstore

If you need to stick to your budget, listen up. This Roxbury, Massachusetts-based spot makes it possible to purchase multiple titles at once thanks to their discounted prices. Your Insta followers aren't ready for all your #bookstagram pics!

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Shelves Bookstore

Don't let the name mislead you. Audiobooks, physical books, and apparel are all available to buy. My advice? Pick up a "Reading Is Freedom" tee to complete your #bookworm look.

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Black Pearl Books

Black Pearl, in Charlotte, North Carolina, might have the biggest collection of books on this entire list. Clear your schedule (lol, what are plans) so you can browse through their 4,000 biographies, 1,800 poetry books, and over 17,000 (yes, you read that right) fiction reads.

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Loyalty Bookstore

With swag, book bundles, and online book clubs, your reading habits are in for a major glow-up thanks to this D.C.-based shop.

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The Lit. Bar

The only bookstore serving "the 1.5 million people of the Boogie Down Bronx" also serves wine. I'll take no further questions at this time.

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Uncle Bobbie's Coffee & Books

Next time you're in Philly, grab a cup of coffee at Uncle Bobbie's Coffee & Books, an inclusive space dedicated to making sure underserved communities have access to books. Or if you can't wait for an IRL visit, tide yourself over with a "feminist" T-shirt from their merch section.

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The Key Bookstore

With curated reading lists on a wide range of subjects, including zeitgeist phenomenons like Beyoncé's Black Is King, The Key—an interactive online bookstore with a brick-and-mortar storefront in Hartford, Connecticut—will get you up to date on pop culture stat.

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