One of the oldest black-owned bookstores in the country is closing. ‹ Literary Center


June 14, 2022, 11:53 a.m.

Los Angeles’ Books by Eso Won announced that it would close its doors at the end of the year. Since the 1980s, this independent bookstore has been dedicated to celebrating the voices of black writers. They are known for their wide selection of books on all topics related to black history and beyond. They held famous events with Barack Obama, before he was president.

And they managed to do everything mostly in teams of two! Co-owners James Fugate and Tom Hamilton, now both in their 60s, believe it’s time to close but are appealing to other local bookstores to support independent presses. As Fugate said:

I just hope we continue to have stores that support Black Classic Press and Africa World Press and [Baltimore-based] Books from the African world. We’re going to need bookstores that make sure these small businesses are part of the supply chain, not just the big ones.

Over the past two years, fueled by the Black Lives Matter movement and the murder of George Floyd, the publishing industry has begun to realize that it needs to more actively advocate for marginalized voices. In 2021, Eso Won Books was selected as Bookstore of the Year by PW. They have seen their sales increase exponentially, sometimes reaching a thousand (!) orders per day.

While their closure will leave a hole in the hearts of many local book lovers, it can be a sweet reminder to continually support the other amazing black-owned bookstores.

[via Publishers Weekly]

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