Meet the Independent Booksellers Who Helped Make Read in Color Possible in 2021

By Lexie Neeley

We love book people. In the year since the launch of our Read in Color program, we’ve had the opportunity to work with even more incredible book people in the form of independent booksellers!

As Program Coordinator for Little Free Library, a big part of my job is acquiring and distributing books for our programs. I work with publishers, wholesalers, and booksellers to get books from our recommended reading list, as well as local favorites, into the hands and libraries of our stewards and partners.

To show our appreciation for the amazing work our independent bookseller partners do, check out the details of a few of our favorites below to learn a bit more and support them whenever you’ve got the itch to purchase a new book. From securing quantities of high-demand titles to making just the right recommendation, these folks have provided their experience and knowledge to make each Read in Color launch special and culturally relevant for their communities.

Brave and Kind Bookshop 

Decatur, GA (Atlanta launch)

Owner/Bookseller: Bunnie Hilliard

Open since: 2018

What book(s) do you recommend to everyone?
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, Wonder by RJ Palacio, and Thank You, Omu by Oge Mora.

What sets your bookstore apart from others?
Black-owned, mom-run, setting out to create beautiful and inclusive home and school libraries.

Find Brave and Kind online:

Website: www.braveandkindbooks.com
Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/shop/braveandkindbooks
Instagram: @braveandkindbooks

All She Wrote Books

Somerville, MA (Boston launch)

Owner/Bookseller: Christina Pascucci Ciampa

Open since: We have been operating since April 2019 and started its humble beginnings as a pop-up bookstore. We will be celebrating three years this year! We had the opportunity to open our first brick-and-mortar location in July 2020.

What book(s) do you recommend to everyone? It depends on what the reader is looking for. I try to broaden their genre a bit, by giving them three recommendations for them to browse and determine which one they would prefer. I personally read more non-fiction books, and recommend anything by Roxane Gay, bell hooks, Angela Y. Davis, or other feminist/queer writers.

What’s special about your bookstore? All She Wrote Books is an intersectional, inclusive feminist and queer bookstore that supports, celebrates, and amplifies underrepresented voices through our thoughtfully curated selection of books spanning across all genres. All She Wrote Books is more than just a feminist/queer independent bookstore. When I think of the words “intersectional”, “feminist”, “queer” that are in our mission statement — I think of them as guiding lights for those who are not only actively seeking queer/feminist spaces out like ours, but for those who want more spaces like ours in the world. Our bookstore is a place where people can find themselves in the pages of the books we have curated on our shelves. It is a place where having conversations about meaningful topics with people is just as important as getting them their next read or helping them build on their TBR pile. It is a safe, inclusive space where you’re loved, cared for, and respected no matter what walk of life you come from. Bottom line: accessibility and community are at the core of what we do, day in and day out.

Find All She Wrote online:

Website: allshewrotebooks.com

Instagram: @allshewrotebooks

Book Suey

Hamtramck, MI (Detroit launch)

Owner: Book Suey is cooperatively owned!

Bookseller: Maria Montoya

Open since: We opened on a small business Saturday four years ago!

What’s special about your bookstore? Our little co-op independent bookstore is special because we are individuals living and occupying space within our community in very diverse ways, and we bring those experiences to our operation of our store. As a result, our selection, events and efforts are very reflective of the unique community we serve.

What book(s) do you recommend to everyone? We are incredibly big fans of most everything from AK Press AND personally I just love the beautiful + diverse books Chronicle Books creates for children. I do think I have purchased everyone I know, Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown.

Find Book Suey online:

Website: www.booksuey.com

Instagram: @booksuey

Bookmans

Various locations, AZ (Phoenix launch)

Owner: Bob Oldfather

Bookseller: Allison Walker

Open since: 1976

What book(s) do you recommend to everyone? We obviously recommend used books! We know that the end of the story isn’t the end of the book’s life, and we love giving used books a new life by getting them in front of a fresh pair of eyes. We’re thrilled to see this recent shift of mainstream opinion, with more people recognizing buying used as intentional, sustainable consumerism.

What’s special about your bookstore? Bookmans is that place where you shop for someone who is impossible to shop for. While we’re still primarily known for books, we also trade and sell music, movies, games, home decor, musical instruments and entertainment systems- to name just a sample. To be honest, people are a little awestruck when they walk into a Bookmans for the first time. It can be hard to know what to look at first. And more than a few people have complained about leaving with more than they intended to buy!

Find Bookmans online:

Website: https://bookmans.com/

Instagram: @bookmansaz

Birchbark Books and Native Arts

Minneapolis, MN (Minneapolis launch)

Owner: Louise Erdrich

Bookseller: Nadine Tiesberg

Open since: 2001

What book(s) do you recommend to everyone?Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline – a phenomenally creepy thriller/mystery from one of my favorite Indigenous authors (she wrote The Marrow Thieves which is a MUST read).

Also The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson – an incredibly moving, perfect novel that follows a Dakota woman’s relationship to the land and with her family.

What’s special about your bookstore? Birchbark Books has been around for over 20 years! Our owner Louise Erdrich is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe and we specialize in Indigenous-authored and illustrated titles within every genre. We do our best to amplify accurate and authentic books by and about Indigenous peoples, most especially those from small independent publishers that do not have the same resources as the Big Five.

Find Birchbark online:

Website: https://birchbarkbooks.com/

Instagram: @birchbark_books

Read in Color® is an initiative bringing diverse books to Little Free Library book-sharing boxes around the world. Read in Color distributes books that provide perspectives on racism and social justice; celebrate BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized voices; and incorporate experiences from all identities for all readers. Books to support our Read in Color program are purchased from BIPOC-owned independent bookstores whenever possible.

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