This Friday marks the beginning of Black History Month, but by mid-February 15-year-old Karibu Books—one of the leading African American bookstores in the country and one of the few remaining bookstores aimed at black readers—will shut its doors.
It’s unfortunately not an uncommon event in recent years; many specialty book retailers, including women’s and LGBT bookstores, have felt the brunt of big-box stores and have been competitively edged out of the market by online bookselling giants like Amazon. “Independent stores function as literary laboratories, and publishers rely on them to champion new and controversial work,” claims Alex Beckstead, the producer and director of Paperback Dreams, a documentary that chronicles the rise and fall of independent bookstores.
We know these stores; we love theses stores. So, I ask, “What’s your favorite independent bookstore . . . and, when’s the last time you’ve been?”