African American Books

Many African American authors, and the millions of readers of every race who enjoy their works, can be grateful that African American books are readily available today, thanks to publishing houses now willing to take on the works of these fascinating, often spell-binding, writers.  Unfortunately, the recent past tells a story of struggle in the publishing industry for writers of color.

African American authors have been writing books of every nature since the early 1800s but they haven’t always been successful in finding a publisher willing to print African American books.  Publishing is a highly speculative business and, for many years, it was believed that African American books just couldn’t command a market large enough to make publishing these books a lucrative endeavor.

This reluctance of the firmly established publishing giants led a significant number of African Americans to open their own publishing houses which, of course, featured only African American books.  Over time, some of the African American-owned publishing houses thrived while others lasted only a short while, publishing few, if any, books.

During this time, the African American books that did get published were often done so to convey a message of social or cultural importance without regard to the hope for profits from sales.  It was this heartfelt belief in printing words of truth and power over capital gains that kept these publishing houses in operation.

Fortunately, one of the many racial breakthroughs of the Civil Rights Movement was a proliferation of works by African American authors, poets, and screenwriters who produced works embraced and acclaimed by readers of all races.  The firms publishing African American books enjoyed a surge of business and profits.

In time, the publishing industry itself began to change.  The firmly established giants of the industry started buying up smaller publishing companies that were known for producing successful books of specific genres.  In order to maintain the markets established by these niche publishers, the big-name publishers often retained the names of the smaller ones albeit under their own labels and logos.

Today, African American books are published freely and often win prestigious awards, garnering high acclaim and substantial profits for their very deserving and talented authors.

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