4 Incredible Black Owned Bookstores in Portland: Get Lit!

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grandparents reading to a young child from one of the black owned boostores in portland

Y’all didn’t think I’d be living in Oregon and NOT give you the scoop on all the Black owned bookstores in Portland did you?? I love a good bookstore! Both as an avid reader and a procrastinating author, bookstores (and by extension the greater literary industry) always hold a special place in my heart….and in my criticisms.

If you’re on my blog, then you’re probably of the same mindset that the publishing industry has been too white, too male, and too straight for TOO LONG. Blah blah blah **PC disclaimer** not ALL straight white male-centric books are bad blah blah blah, but the beauty of reading comes from exploring new avenues and new perspectives. It’s baffling how in the big ol’ age of 2024 we STILL have a diversity problem in the publishing industry.

“Oh but Kayyyy I went to a bookstore and saw TWO Black fantasy books on the bookshelf!”

No no no, dig deeper young Padawan. From agents choosing which books to pick up, to publishers deciding which releases to invest marketing for, to resources available for authors to support their craft, and even book influencers compiling lists…it’s not up to par when it comes to diversity. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t pay Booktok any mind.

That…and the fact I don’t have TikTok at all. But that’s a rant for another day.

Along with a few trusted book influencers and following authors I enjoy, I mostly get my reading recommendations from seeing what’s out and about on the shelves of my favorite bookstores. That’s why I’m extremely critical of what bookstores stock on their shelves and what titles they highlight. In my personal experience, BIPOC owned bookstores tend to have a more diverse range of books in stock and I gravitate towards reading culturally rich and varied stories. That’s why I wanted to make a post highlighting the fantastic Black owned bookstores in Portland.

Yes, there are Black owned bookstores in Portland – PLURAL.

Black Owned Bookstores in Portland

If you’re looking for a new bookstore to check out, I encourage you to give these shops a browse! Hopefully you’ll find a new favorite spot and also get great recommendations for reads that will expand both your bookshelf and your mind. In addition to having an amazing selection, these Black owned bookstores ALSO have amazing people running the stores which makes me even more excited to share all of them.

Let’s get into it!

Third Eye Books

2518 SE 33rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97202

Regularly voted as one of the best bookstores in Portland, Third Eye Books is a cornerstone of the community. Established on the bustling SE Division Street, Third Eye Books celebrates and promotes Black culture through literature, ranging from fiction to comics to memoirs to journalist non-fiction to children’s books and every genre in-between. The Black experience, both domestic and international, is highlighted at Third Eye Books, but also includes a variety of other books from Indigenous and other BIPOC communities across their diasporas.

Third Eye Books regularly has author talks, book signings, and discussions so be sure to keep an eye on their socials and sign up for the newsletter for the latest info!

Grand Gesture Bookstore

storefront coming soon

Grand Gesture Bookstore is one of Portland’s newest bookstores and is already making waves. The romance genre has been around since the dawn of literature, but really saw a mainstream resurgence over the past few years, and Grand Gesture Bookstore is one of the best places to find romance novels in the city.

Grand Gesture Bookstore has been operating as a online store since its opening, but is now crowdfunding to bring its much-desired storefront to Portland. Definitely support bringing more Black owned bookstores in Portland get their brick and mortar! I am looking forward to all the lovey dovey warm community events that will be hosted in the future!

Sunrise Books

4605 NE Fremont St UNIT 208, Portland, OR 97213

Now we can’t leave the kiddos out! Sunrise Books is one of the Black owned bookstores in Portland that encourages children to embrace their creativity and explore imagination. Libraries and bookstores can sometimes feel…quiet and sophisticated. The kind of place where people walk up and down the aisles shushing each other.

But Sunrise Books is created with kids – and their boundless energy – in mind, bringing light and laughter to the Beaumont neighborhood. I love that their inventor has tons of children’s books featuring Black characters, but also a diverse range of communities so kids can see themselves (and their friends!!) when they read. THAT is the impact Black owned bookstores in Portland have. The reading age range of their books starts with baby board books all the way up to young adult, so you can help enrich your kids at any stage!

The Romance Era Bookshop

1701 Lincoln Ave Second Floor, Vancouver, WA 98660 (moving soon)

Okayyy okay, technically The Romance Era Bookshop is in Vancouver, Washington BUT

  1. Basically the same thing, okay? It’s right across the bridge and might even be closer for some folks living in North Portland
  2. It’s my list and my rules
  3. The Romance Era Bookshop is AMAZING

Now that we got the technicalities out the way, The Romance Era Bookshop is a bookstore that focuses on all things romance. It is also a shop that is loudly and proudly an inclusive, sex/body/pleasure positive safe space for people of all types to explore without judgement.

The Romance Era Bookshop has outgrown its cozy former space and is now moving to a larger storefront that can accommodate hosting book clubs and other events, as well as stock more juicy inventory! Check out their GoFundMe to support more Black owned bookstores in Portland and the surrounding cities!

Where to Read

Now that you’ve picked up some new reads from these fantastic Black owned bookstores in Portland, you could either go home (predictable, ordinary, unexciting)

OR

you could go somewhere else (revolutionary, genius, keeps them guessing)

Obviously there is no obligation to parade around town, but if you’re already out…why not make a day out of it? You could play it old school and grab a blanket and read peacefully under a tree in the park, but personally I like a cozy cafe – which thankfully Portland has a lot of! You can keep your support of Black businesses going by stopping into one of the Black owned coffee shops in Portland! (full blog post coming soon)

  • Above Grnd Coffee: one of the new spots on the Chinatown block, putting in the hard work to bring life back into the neighborhood. They are one of the only coffee spots open late (like 11pm!!!) and offering an alcohol-free environment for those out late, either by themselves or with others. Amazing drinks (my fav is the chai matcha!!!) and incredible desserts! They have lots of different areas to settle in for a good read. *on 2nd floor, no elevator*
  • L’Atelier Yaffe: part cafe part art gallery part event space and part one of the best spots for one of the best spots for breakfast in Portland, L’Atelier Yaffe is making waves on the Eastside. The space is bright and inviting with floor to ceiling windows and light finishes. Very diverse crepe and espresso menu and when evening rolls around for the next cool event, there are also cocktails and mocktails available. They even hosts periodic silent read-ins, which…is perfect after a day shopping at Black owned bookstores in Portland!

Who to Read With

And lastly, if you’re more of a social reader, a few of the Black owned bookstores in Portland have their own book clubs, or you could check out Prose Before Bros, a social bookclub for women of color. They also partner with the Black owned bookstores in Portland for their monthly reads!

Y’all know I’m shy, but I did stop by one of their discussions and it is such a friendly and encouraging environment, even when people have varying opinions on the book! Highly recommend following them, even if you never end up meeting in person the digital group chats are a ball.

Conclusion: Black owned bookstores in Portland

And there ya have it folks! Three fantastic Black owned bookstores in Portland ( plus one that is basically in the city haha). Whether you are new to reading or want to broaden your horizon, they’ll take care of ya!

4 black owned bookstores in portland oregon

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