Once upon a time, there was a business in America called the African American Bookstore. And it was a good thing, where readers could go and find their favorite and new authors and the bookstore owners supported AA authors by hand-selling their books. And all was well in the literary world as AA authors thrived and did well and built careers using the talent God had given them. And readers were kept “in the know” about what was happening in the literary world.
And then, Free Enterprise looked at what the AA Bookstores were doing. It was a surprise to Free Enterprise because they believed that black people didn’t read..and if black people did read, Free Enterprise didn’t really care because AA books and readers had been such a small piece of the pie. But Free Enterprise said, “We cannot have AA Bookstores getting all of that money.” So Free Enterprise did something they’d never done before. They began to sell AA books, too. And they lured readers away from AA Bookstores by offering discounts that they received that AA Bookstores did not. Many of the readers ignored Free Enterprise, but some readers couldn’t resist…and they fled from the places that had nurtured their love and supplied them with their reading needs. And the readers flocked to Free Enterprise for the deep discounts ($1/$2 off) that they received.
The AA Bookstores watched in horror as their customers slowly began to disappear. The AA Bookstores sent up a warning flare — “It’s a trick,” they said. “Free Enterprise doesn’t care about you. They just want to take the money from us. It’s a trick.”
But soon there was no one left to hear their cries and day by day the AA Bookstores watched their sales dwindle until they could no longer keep their doors open. One by one, they closed until now only a handful are left in the land.
Then, Free Enterprise looked around. And saw that there was no more competition from AA Bookstores. So, Free Enterprise asked, “Why are we still carrying these AA books? We never wanted them. It was just a trick to make sure that all money came to us.”
So Free Enterprise slashed their AA book lists. It happened so fast that no one even noticed…until it was too late.
Now, the country has a void — there are so few AA Bookstores left and AA readers are left clamoring, running from Free Enterprise store to Free Enterprise store trying to find their favorite AA author. “What ever happened to….” can be heard throughout the land.
And now, AA readers are mad…and sad. And many say, “If we could do it over, we would’ve never allowed our AA Bookstores to close. We would’ve done whatever we could to keep them open.”
But there is nothing that can be done now and that’s the end of the story…except…maybe we can do something to support the AA Bookstores who have fought to stay open. Maybe we can support those businesses who have supported us, even if we may have to pay $1 more…….
Victoria Christopher Murray is a Bestselling Author, Publisher, Educator. Please pick up a copy of her latest book Stand Your Ground.