Buy your books from Black-owned bookstores. Here’s a list of them by state. If there’s one near you, please become a regular customer. If not order from one once in a while and have them ship the books to you.
- Support Indie bookstores. Most new voices are first discovered and promoted by indie booksellers. Indie bookstores are a venue for book events for local authors not given a publisher-sponsored tour. And indie bookstores selling books at their cover price are the ones that give an author their full royalty. Those venues on line or elsewhere that offer discounts on books are giving the author less in royalty. Royalties are what make it possible for an author to continue writing.
Donate to BINC. BINC is the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. They provide assistance to booksellers which helps them stay open in the face of difficulty. The assistance includes help with serious medical expenses, eviction prevention, funeral expenses, disaster assistance, domestic violence survival, utility shut-off prevention, and many other things. Donate here. Every little bit helps, especially now when so many book stores are struggling.
Read books from Small Presses. Even the big publishers agree that the most daring and diverse books come out of small, independent, regional, and university presses. If you are a librarian, especially one on a book award committee, please give equal attention to the small press gems from Amistad, Just Us Books, Cinco Punto, Orca, Charlesbridge, Lee & Low, Enchanted Lion, Lerner, , and the many others listed here.
Get involved in small business politics If I could wave a magic wand I’d love to give every neighborhood and town it’s own vibrant independent bookstore. Sadly many people live in a book desert. If that’s your community, spend some time at your town’s council meetings. Ask the local small business association what you can do to bring a bookstore to town, The American Booksellers Association has a small business issues section that offers, state-by-state some suggestions for advocacy for bookstores. This kind of advocacy can be boring and feel far removed from the heat of the moment but if we want Black businesses to flourish in the future we have to lay the groundwork for it now.
Use and promote your public library. Librarians are often at the forefront of advocating for diverse books. If your local library is not as inclusive as you’d like, The American Library Association has materials to help a library conduct a self audit and take steps to diversify the books on the shelf. If the books on your state reading lists and battle of the books lists are not reflecting Black lives, speak up. Librarians choose those lists; they need to hear from you. If they’ve consistently done a good job of serving the Black community—give them that feedback too. Help your library by using it regularly, requesting Black-authored books regularly, and supporting it with your votes when the library levy is on the ballot.
Advocate for a full time teacher-librarian in every public, private, and charter school. Librarians pay a key role in introducing young readers to diverse voices. They also support diverse authors by buying their books. Show up at school board meetings. Pay attention to how school funding is allocated. Make sure there is always budget for diverse books and the librarians who support them.
- Most important of all–Vote. Vote in every election, especially the local ones. Be a well-informed voter, drawing your information from a variety of sources. Be a passionate voter, advocating for free access to the ballot box for all. Speak up when voting abuse happens. And always, always, keep in mind the readers you serve as a parent, teacher, librarian or bookseller. Serve not just your immediate interest but their long term benefit.
Posts Tagged Indie bookstores
Our Indie Spotlight shines today on Barstons Child’s Play, in McLean, Virginia.
The combination toy/bookstore actually has four locations in the Washington, D.C. metro area, and has been around for about 30 years. MUF spoke to the whole team responsible for curating their wonderful book collection: Molly Olivo (Book Buyer for all 4 stores), Sara Hemming (McLean Book Manager), Bregette Poore (McLean Store Manager), and Steven and Simmie Aarons (Owners/Founders).
MUF: What does your bookstore (within a toy store) offer that makes you a special place to for readers to go buy books?
As a company, we are big believers in the importance of finding the joy in childhood reading (and play). We pride ourselves on finding the right book for every child and building relationships with our customers. We focus our attention on the kid reader- what they find interesting and what they want out of their reading experience. If we can spark a love of reading in a child with a book picked especially for them, we have completed the most important step in creating a lifelong reader. We have worked hard to create a book store that is solely for the kids.
– Molly Olivo
We are able to capture a unique audience of kids that includes avid readers and kids who might never step into a more traditional book store. It is a real joy to see both sides of the store evolve and grow with our customers.
– Simmie Aarons
MUF: What’s your favorite part about this job?
The kids! Being able to discuss Ron Weasley with a 10 year old who just finished Harry Potter or discovering a giggling 6 year old with their head stuck in the Day the Crayons Quit is incredibly rewarding.
– Molly Olivo
Talking to the kids every day makes the job not feel like work. The real reward for me, however, is having a child that we almost lost as a reader come in for their second or third book that week. It sometimes takes setting aside all projects for the day and sitting with a child, reading the first page of stacks of books to find the one that ignites the spark. Not every child will love reading every book, but our goal is to get every child to love reading.
MUF: What are your strategies for competing with big bookstores and online retailers?
Big bookstores and online retailers can never give you the indie experience. We are providing customers with high quality service, staff that care about their kids, and individualized recommendations that have nothing to do with publisher marketing budgets or algorithms. At the end of the day, our passion for books and kids has helped to set us apart, and we hope that our customers continue to value that and keep coming back.
– Molly Olivo
MUF: One of the many things to love about your store is the obvious care you take with making books look interesting. Browsing is so much fun here!
One of our favorite features is that we’re always changing the department and displays. One of the considerations in our displays is representation and diversity. We had a kindergarten teacher come in whose student was not engaged in reading because none of the stories were about anyone like her. She was shocked at how many options we had to build up her classroom library. We sometimes forget the importance of representation until you hear a kid exclaim, “Finally! Someone who looks like me!” when picking up a book. Every year I’m surprised by the emotional response to our Black History and Women’s History month displays when we think that is the bare minimum for a bookstore to cover. We were also proud to promote the Children’s Book Council’s Reading Without Walls Challenge last year that awarded children for reading outside their comfort zone.
– Sara Hemming
MUF: Another fabulous new feature is the “blind date with a book”— books already wrapped up with just a few clues about what’s inside. What fun, to guess what’s inside the packaging and then get to read it!!
MUF: As middle grade authors, we’re always curious to know what titles, new or old, fiction or nonfiction, you find yourself recommending the most to readers ages 8-12? Which books seem to be flying off the shelves right now – on that same age range?
Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid has been one of our favorites recently. Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis work so incredibly well together, and it is such a fun adventure with something for everyone.
Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic from Armand Baltazar is really fun and unique.
Graphic novels have also been super hot recently. Amulet and Nimona are always favorites at Child’s Play.
One of our favorite underappreciated backlist titles is The Seventh Most Important Thing, by Shelly Pearsall. It is empathetic, surprising, and incredibly interesting. It also has the added bonus of being set in DC and based on a piece of art that is at the Smithsonian.
MUF: We’re so glad to get to know you all. Congratulations on your continued success and huge thanks for being such a strong supporter of books and kids.