Places that Matter

Brownstone Books (former)

Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
African-American focused bookstore offering author readings/lectures, special events, and book clubs for adults and children
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Place Matters Profile

When it opened in 2000, Brownstone Books was the first bookstore in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in over 30 years. Created in a conscious effort to bring people in the community together, the bookstore is now a vibrant local center.

Brownstone Books is owned and operated by Crystal and Walston Bobb-Semple, who returned to Bedford-Stuyvesant from San Francisco to create a business that would contribute to their local community. Aided by a grant from the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the Bobb-Semple's designed their store to showcase local talent and encourage community participation.

Their large well-lighted store, which replaced a rundown laundromat, carries authors, titles, and topics reflecting the interests of local African American, Caribbean and African residents, and sells the crafts of local artisans. Up-and-coming and well-established authors from the African Diaspora such as Nikki Giovanni and former Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Paule Marshall, frequently hold readings and book signings at the store. All in all, Brownstone organizes between 50 and 60 community-related events each year.

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