Oakland’s ‘Marcus Books’ reports increase in book sales regarding history of race in America

Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — It is one of the oldest Black owned bookstores in the country.

Marcus Books in Oakland has hosted icons including Toni Morrison, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali,    Maya Angelou and so many more. And now, as people across the country find themselves wanting to learn more about the history of race in America — Marcus Books has seen a serious uptick in sales.

It’s a welcome influx of business, especially after COVID-19 forced the store to close down temporarily.

Thanks to the community, money was raised to keep them afloat over the last few months and now, books about the Black American experience are flying off the shelves.

“We try to present a forum for people to find out about themselves, their history their culture and that’s serving a great purpose right now,”said owner Blanche Richardson. 

Her parents opened the store in 1960, during the Black power movement which then lead into the Civil Rights movement. As the store celebrated its 60th anniversary this year, Richardson says this wasn’t how she pictured the year would go, but this sudden wave of awareness and yearning to learn about the Black American experience has her hopeful. 

Since the death of George Floyd sparked protests around the world, books are flying off the shelves and the store has seen about a 150% uptick in sales over the last few weeks. 

“That just speaks to the number of people that see this as an urgent issue and really are determined to do something about it on a personal level — which is wonderful,” said Richardson.

Richardson says any books with “race” in the title are gone, as are books that speak directly to white people about what they need to know to change. Though Richardson isn’t sure what made this specific incident of injustice different, but she’s glad people are turning to Marcus Books for guidance and answers. 

“We’re gonna sell you and provide as many books as we can for all ages about all subjects that will help us all come together and understand what’s going on and how we can come together to change things for the better,” said Richardson. 

Right now you can call to order a book or go to Marcus Books on Facebook to place an order and pick it up at the store.

Richardson says for some of the more popular books like D’angelo’s White Fragility, the waiting list is about 4-500 people. She says that’s because publishers were not prepared for this to happen, so there’s been a delay in mass production on many popular titles.

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