So Long To A Beloved Chain Of Bookstores.

Throughout my dozen years in this business (got my first book deal in Feb ’96 and the book came out in April ’97), one of the greatest rewards has been the tremendous support from bookstores in the African-American community. Many wonderful stores helmed by enthusiastic owners who hand-sold our books to readers have fallen by the wayside over the years, hard-pressed to contend with corporate behemoths like Barnes and Noble and, who, because of their size and buying power, can offer steep discounts the little guy could never match.

Unfortunately, another great black bookstore has fallen—this one a successful chain on the east coast called Karibu, whose owners created an environment that was not only beautiful and uplifting, but was a place for readers, writers, and the community in general to engage in cultural enlightenment and an appreciation of the word.

For once, this isn’t an instance of a business closing down for financial reasons. Still, they will be sorely missed.

7 thoughts on “So Long To A Beloved Chain Of Bookstores.

  1. >Such a shame. Nothing left now but B&N, Borders and Amazon (white folks) who wouldn't mind if we (black folks) went away altogether. Good luck finding books by black authors now. Sure you can always find Lo's. She's popular… offense Lo, but you are. As for new writers, fuhgeddaboutit!


  2. >Lo's even mentioned in the Washington Post article about the store's closing. That alone speaks to her popularity.As a mother of two it's been crucial to me to have places like this to take my children to reinforce their cultural awareness. To read that this chain is closing because the owners can't agree on the direction of growth is flabbergasting. What about the service they provide to the community? Couldn't they reach a truce once they realized the impact shutting down would have on the community at large?


  3. >Well, this is indeed a sad occurrence. However, knowing both owners and pretty much the details of their negotiations (and trust me it really wasn't about going national) I'll say I am not surprised.It's not my place to air anyone's business, but there were too many pieces of the puzzle that had fallen away in the last 18 months which made this almost predictable.My wish (and prayer) is that somehow Simba — whom I have the utmost respect for and confidence in — will regroup with some different partners and there will be another incarnation of what was the largest book chain for and by African Americans.There are on line African American book sources but like the Washington Post article said, going to this store was like going to barber shop. There were people who I only saw at Karibu and it was like a family reunion. I think Eric Jerome Dickey's last four or five tours included Karibu and it was there that I would get to hang with folk I had met earlier in his career.A sad day but I remain hopeful.


  4. >I was living in DC last year. Karibu was well respected and needed. This is sad.I'm a firm believer in the phoenix rising from the ashes. They'll be back in some form down the line.


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