Oakland's Black-owned bookstore sees surge in Black literature sales amid worldwide movement

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Marcus Books store is the oldest independent Black bookstore in the country and it is right here in Oakland. Many businesses have been struggling during the coronavirus shutdown but Marcus Books has never been busier.

"Once you are here, it is non-stop," said Blanche Richardson, owner of Marcus Books Store in Oakland.

Marcus Book Stores opened their doors in 1960 and was founded by Drs. Raye and Julian Richardson who both shared a love of books especially Black literature.

"It is really important for a community to have it's own bookstore," said Richardson.

Their vision was to create a platform for Black authors to have their literature displayed on shelves and provide books for the Black community.

Marcus books has hosted America's most important people in Black history such as Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali to name a few.

Like many businesses, Marcus Books had to shut their doors temporarily due to COVID-19 and with the help of the community they were able to keep their business alive through a GoFundMe Campaign

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Three weeks after the coronavirus shutdown, Marcus Books was seeing an overwhelming amount of book orders. Following the demonstrations for George Floyd's death, books from Black authors have been flying off the shelves. Sales have surged well over 200%.

"There's definitely a surge in reading and wanting to read and also what people are reading because we are seeing a lot of people in the store that we have never seen before," said Richardson. "They are buying anything in the store but mainly but mainly books dealing with racial issues."

Marcus Books is seeing a large support from surrounding communities but also on a national level.

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"It's just overwhelming. We were getting 300 to 400 orders a day," said Richardson. "We have been very, very fortunate with the national support that we have received because we are sending packages all over the country now."

"It is really cool just to be able to walk somewhere and to see a bunch of books with people who look like me on the cover," said Bidemi Animashaun, longtime customer of Marcus Books Store.

People from all over leaning on Marcus Books to expand their knowledge to learn more about black history and racial issues that could possibly lead to change.

"When I see people buying a lot of people buying these books that weren't buying them before. I feel cautiously hopeful that there will be some change in the entire society," said Richardson.

Marcus Books Store is currently taking book orders by phone but will have an online site coming soon.
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