The last Saturday of April has been designated as Independent Bookstore Day, so named to encourage book lovers across the nation to support locally-owned, small business book sellers. Five years ago, the Shrine of the Black Madonna’s Cultural and Events Center (5309 MLK Blvd., Houston 77021) decided to blacken things up a bit, naming their event the Black and Independent Book & Art Fair. And this year’s version is happening on Saturday, April 30 from 11a.m – 4p.m.
“There are countless independent Black authors here in the Houston area who are not on Amazon, they’re not in Barnes and Noble, but we want to celebrate these authors who have used their time, creativity and energy to publish a book,” said Nailah Nelson, national director of the Shrine’s cultural centers and bookstores located in Detroit, Atlanta and Houston. “We want help these authors promote their books, and the Cultural Center has always been a platform for authors, activists, scholars, etc., who lift up our people, our history, our perspectives and our stories. So, we’re continuing that tradition with the Black and Independent Book & Art Fair.”
One of those authors who will be in attendance, Courtney Jones, expressed why she’s looking forward to the upcoming event.
“I’m excited about participating in the Black and Independent Book & Art Fair because I get to share my books and testimonies with others,” said Jones, the author of three books designed to encourage people on their life journey. “I love meeting new people who resonate with the things I’ve experienced. Most importantly, I get excited when others can use my books to assist them with something they may currently be experiencing.”
Jones’ works include “Soul Mate or Soul Bait” written to help women and men decipher if the person they’re dating is their soul mate or someone baiting them along; “Predestined,” that informs readers that everyone is predestined for something; and “Intensities of Life,” a book of poems that showcases how life can become intense for us all no matter your financial status or love life.
“Most people do not know what they’re destined for,” said Jones. “This book, ‘Predestined,’ outlines various trials and testimonies that helped me find my destiny.”
Nelson said Jones and all 30-plus authors will be encouraged to step to the mic and tell customers about their books.
Event attendees will be able to enjoy live music performed by renown saxophonist Christina Woodard, a wine tasting and lite bites, book signings by participating authors, spoken word poetry and a “pro-Black community vibe.”
And according to Nelson, authors and other vendors, including painters, greeting cards makers, clothes makers, and more, will be able to sell their products free of charge, i.e. without paying a vendor fee.
“We’re not charging because we’re celebrating, and we want it to be free because it is essentially a give-back to the community event. We’re also allowing merchandise vendors to vend free, as well. This is a ‘Thank you’ to the community for 10 years of support to our Buy Black Marketplace.”
Nelson said when the Shrine’s Buy Black Marketplace started roughly a decade ago, they were “the only game in town” for a long time. Now, vendors can choose from multiple “buy-Black” happenings, depending upon the activity and the vending fee.
“So, this April 30 event is just to give-back to the vendors who have been supporting us for the last 10 years,” said Nelson.
For more information about vending or attending as an author to sell and promote your book, call 832-408-1071.