As someone who loves independent bookshops almost as much as I love books, I try to always support small, independently owned shops when I’m purchasing books. Before COVID, I usually looked for books at local brick and mortar bookstores here in Reno or wherever I was visiting at the time. With the pandemic keeping me home with my little one, though, I’ve been ordering our books online.
Last year, I started purchasing from Black-owned bookstores, of which there are many that you can find in lists all over the internet. With the white terrorist violence in Georgia last week that targeted Asian American women and the anti-Asian hate that’s been escalating in the past year, I looked online for bookstores owned by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) that I could support, as well. There are many, and almost certainly at least one of them carries the books on your reading list.
To encourage more folks to support Asian-owned businesses, I’ve compiled this list of AAPI-owned bookstores that you can order from online. Many also have brick and mortar shops, although some have reduced hours or are temporarily closed due to COVID. There are of course other Asian-owned bookstores around the U.S. that do not have online ordering options, so if there is one in your community, please do support them, as well!
Please join me in searching for the books on your list, perusing virtual shelves and recommendations, and most importantly purchasing your books from these AAPI-owned booksellers:
- A Good Used Book (Los Angeles, CA): A carefully curated used book store, currently entire online. They offer books through their website and through a weekly story sale on Instagram. https://agoodusedbook.com/
- Arkipelago Books (San Francisco, CA): “Arkipelago Books has been a pillar of the community for 20 years and exists as one of 2 of the only distributors of speciality books outside of the Philippines. Additionally, the store’s collection of contemporary and historical Filipino American titles makes Arkipelago Books a leader in book distribution to libraries, educational institutions, as well as to the local and traveler alike interested in Filipino Literature, Culture, Social Sciences, Art, Poetry, History, and more.” https://www.arkipelagobooks.com/
- Asian American Curriculum Project (San Mateo, CA): “AACP pledges to offer you the best in Asian American Books and other educational materials. Over fifty years of experience speaks for our success. […] By making a purchase through AACP, you help to support our non-profit efforts to bring a wide variety of Asian American curriculum materials to schools, libraries, and the general public.” https://asianamericanbooks.com/index.shtml
- Bel Canto Books (Long Beach, CA): “Founded by Jhoanna Belfer, a Filipina-American poet and former hospitality executive, Bel Canto Books offers a curated selection of fiction, nonfiction and children’s books, organized around a theme of the month, in particular celebrating books by women and people of color.” Founded in 2017. https://belcantobooks.net/
- Coyote Supply Co. (Reno, NV): “Coyote Supply Co was launched in 2019, by Brianna Punsalang & Michael Gomez, to create a safe space for our fellow BIPOC LGBTQIA+ witches and allies to shop.” As a zero waste witch shop, they also sell a great selection of zines and journals. https://www.coyotesupplyco.com/
- Eastern Book Store NYC (New York City, NY): “Located in the center of Chinatown in Manhattan, Eastern Bookstore is considered the biggest amalgamated Chinese cultural center, rather than just a bookstore. Having a business area of close to 7,000 square feet, the store mainly sells Chinese books from Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The subjects cover social science, liberal art, literature, Sinology, calligraphy and drawing, Chinese language study, youngster’s study, medicine, and many others.” Founded in 1976. https://www.easternbooknyc.com/
- Eastwind Books of Berkeley (Berkeley, CA): “Since 1982, Eastwind Books of Berkeley has been a major source for Asian American literature, Asian Studies, Ethnic Studies, Language Learning, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Martial Arts books.” https://www.asiabookcenter.com/
- Femme Fire Books (Jacksonville, FL): A new and used online-only bookstore. “My goal for Femme Fire Books is to celebrate diversity in literature and encourage reading for all. FFB offers a diverse range of books reflecting the incredible cultural melting pot of what America represents. When you browse books in my store, I hope that you find a variety of titles, topics, authors, and genres to choose from.” https://femmefirebooks.com/
- Giant Robot (Los Angeles, CA): “Giant Robot Store, established in 2001 features products from around the world. Notably, fun house wares, gifts, stationeries, t shirts, comics, plush and toy figures.” They also sell books! https://www.giantrobot.com/
- Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, CA): “The Japanese American National Museum is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to sharing the experience of Americans of Japanese ancestry. Its mission is to promote understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience.” https://janmstore.com/
- Kinokuniya USA: “Kinokuniya USA offers a wide variety of books, magazines, and stationery from Japan. We are proud to bring you our extensive collection of manga, graphic novels, art and design books, cookbooks, travel books, children’s books, and more, both in English and Japanese.” https://usa.kinokuniya.com/
- Nā Mea Hawaiʻi (Honolulu, HI): “Nā Mea Hawaiʻi is a place with pride and respect for Hawaiians and Hawaiian culture. Because of this pride and respect, we want to share information about culture, language and traditions with those who are interested in learning.” https://www.nameahawaii.com/
- narrated objects (Los Angeles, CA): “Narrated Objects is a women-led creative collective in Los Angeles. Our mission is threefold: to provide individuals with outlets to share their diverse experiences and talents, to enrich people’s lives through unique multimedia stories and events, and to partner with organizations doing good. We are committed to publishing and selling the work of artists, writers, and makers of all ages, and we enjoy collaborating with community and arts organizations on publications, exhibits, and workshops.” https://narratedobjects.com/index.html
- Now Serving (Los Angeles, CA): “A Cookbook & Culinary Shop in LA.” In addition to culinary books, they sell chocolate, apparel, greeting cards, ceramics, tools, and more. https://nowservingla.com/
- Orphan Books (Los Angeles, CA): “My passions in bookselling are connecting with young readers to make them lifelong readers and amplifying marginalized voices. I love to read and encourage others to read authors of color, queer authors, and works in translation. The best thing about reading is the way it opens the world to us, and how, for the length of time we spend reading, we get to slip into someone else’s experience of the world.” https://orphanbooksinc.com/
- Philippine Expressions Bookshop (San Pedro, CA): “The Bookshop dedicated to Filipino Americans in search of their roots.” Founded in 1984. https://philippinebookshop.com/
- Tahanan Books: “Tahanan Books is a Filipino corporation dedicated to making quality books for Filipino familes as well as supplementary curriculum materials for schools and libraries.” https://tahananbooks.com/
- The Dial Bookshop (Chicago, IL): A used and new bookshop in The Fine Arts Building in Chicago, which has a rich literary history reaching back to the 1880s. https://www.dialbookshop.com/
- Townie Books (Crested Butte, CO): “We believe in readers and in the written word. We believe in community. We believe in making a difference through books.” https://towniebookscb.indielite.org/
- USC Pacific Asia Museum (Los Angeles, CA): “Here visitors can see groundbreaking exhibitions, attend world class programs, and find a sense of community that is dedicated to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands. The Shop@PAM exclusive, curated collection offers one-of-a-kind products that reflect the museum’s history, collections, exhibition related books and goods, and special branded pieces.” https://www.uscbookstore.com/usc-pam
- Waucoma Books (Hood River, OR): “Waucoma Bookstore serves the Columbia Gorge community as a central gathering place for interesting people and engaging thought. Located in downtown Hood River you’ll find national bestsellers and unheralded treasures for your reading pleasure. […] As we are in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, we specialize in Pacific Northwest books and related materials such as maps and greeting cards. Waucoma also has a wonderful selection of toys, cards, journals, calendars, and windchimes – something for everyone.” https://www.waucomabookstore.com/
- Word Up Books (New York City, NY): A collective bookshop with a multicultural team, including AAPI folks, “Word Up is a multilingual, general-interest, nonprofit community bookshop and arts space in Washington Heights NYC.”
- 27th Letter Books (Detroit, MI): “We carry new, general interest books that are carefully curated to highlight underrepresented voices and excellent writing. […] The ampersand (&) was once considered the 27th letter of the alphabet. It developed as a ligature of the letters e and t from the Latin word et meaning “and.” In the ampersand’s history, we see a symbol of coming together, transformation, and persistence. It represents creation, adaptation, and the continuing nature of language and of life.” https://www.27thletterbooks.com/
Know of other Asian-owned bookstores? Please share in the comments!
P.S. Thank you to Libro.fm for posting this article, which is how I learned of many of these bookstores.