Spotlighting UK’s Black-Owned Bookshops
By Nazifa Khan, Holly Presswell, Tamara Yamamoto and Christiana Jasutan
We have rounded up some of the best independent Black-owned bookshops in the UK. Let’s celebrate diversity within literature, and vibrancy within the community through these must-visit gems!
New Beacon Books – Finsbury Park, London N4 3EN
New Beacon Book is an extraordinary indie bookstore in London and was in fact the first Black publisher and international book distributor in the UK. Founded In 1966, it’s a fantastic place to explore African and Caribbean literature as well as other cultural literature. They have a diverse selection of books, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s books. By providing a platform for these often-overlooked narratives, New Beacon Books plays a vital role in amplifying marginalised voices and fostering a greater understanding of different cultures.
Beyond its impressive book selection, it is a warm and welcoming space where book lovers can connect and engage with the passionate staff. They also host exciting events such as author readings and book clubs, creating a vibrant community. By visiting and supporting New Beacon Books, you are not only immersing yourself in a treasure trove of diverse literature but also actively contributing to the preservation and celebration of African and Caribbean voices. So, if you are looking for a unique and enriching bookstore experience, take a step inside this wonderful place and enlighten yourself! You can also find more info here!
BookLove is slightly different from your traditional bookshop, as they travel the country with their multicultural book carnival! They are an independent grassroots UK-based company, highlighting multicultural, anti-racist, inclusive and bi-lingual books for both children and adults. Moving into their 6th year of travelling around the country, BookLove work hard to showcase the very best multicultural content the world has to offer. Their tour takes them from schools to nurseries and public and corporate spaces, selling books and giving people a voice.
With a lack of culturally inclusive representation in schools, libraries and on screen, BookLove are working with an award-winning collective of educators, artists, musicians and creatives to help change this. On their websites, you can find their GoFundMe page, which is raising money to help give free multicultural books to schools, colleges, nurseries and universities to make children and young people feel more represented in their place of education. “There is massive under-representation, not just within the curriculum, but across all media, especially books, and BookLove is on a mission to change that.”
Black Cultural Archives – 1 Windrush Square, London, SW2 1EF
The Black Cultural Archives (BCA) is a heritage exhibition centre in Brixton that grew as a community project to provide members of the community with a space dedicated to the representation and recognition of those of African and Caribbean descent in the UK. Positive representation was essential, especially for young people, of their history and culture. This formed the archive museum that it is today, displaying Black British history every day.
The centre hosts a series of exhibitions, educational programmes and public events with free access to their reading room and library by appointment. The centre also has a mission to “collect, preserve and celebrate the histories of people of African and Caribbean descent in the UK and to inspire and give strength to individuals, communities, and society.”
Additionally, the BCA is in partnership with Poetic Relief – a charity that provides alternative ways to teach young people through poetry. They host poetry and spoken-word events at the BCA for up-and-coming poets. Learn more about the BCA’s mission here!
Round Table Books – Brixton Village, 73 Granville Arcade, Coldharbour Ln, London SW9 8PS
Round Table Books bookshop is run by Knights Of (KO), a multi-award-winning inclusive publisher, and a team led by women of colour, whose desire is to shine a light on underrepresented voices and bring them to the forefront of children’s publishing. Round Table Books is an amazing, inclusive bookshop celebrating underrepresented authors, writers and illustrators. Some of the notable events they host at the bookshop include a talk with the Whiting Award-winning poet and author Safiya Sinclair for the launch of her new and acclaimed book How To Say Babylon: A Jamaican Memoir. To find out more information, please check out their website here!
Sevenoaks Bookshop – 147 High Street, Sevenoaks, TN13 1XJ
This independent bookshop boasts books of a range of different genres, and they also sell a lot of stationery, tote bags, posters, games and much more. First opened in 1948, Sevenoaks Bookshop is currently owned by Fleur Sinclair. Other than a huge collection of books, they have The Writers’ Cafe that serves beverages and cakes, with locally sourced ingredients.
Sevenoaks Bookshop also hosts an incredibly popular Writers’ Group, which is a course for eight dedicated writers to meet biweekly to discuss creative writing and the publishing industry. It also gives writers the opportunity to focus on their work and gain in-depth critique from their peers, as well as attend talks from industry professionals such as agents, publicists or editors. The writing group for 2023-2024 has now closed, so if you are interested in joining next year, do keep an eye on their website, get in touch with them or sign up for their mailing list: https://sevenoaksbookshop.co.uk/