If you didn’t already know, here at URBAN AINT DEAD we like to shine light on the people and places that keep the Urban fiction genre alive. This week, we are putting the spotlight on The Book Readers Venue Bookstore in Humble, Texas.
Sherrele Goloversic, a United States Army Veteran, and the proud owner of this black-owned bookstore, has been an avid reader since the tender age of four. We’re thankful that she’s taking some time to talk to us about her amazing store and her love of books.
1. Now, we’re aware that you started reading at a young age, did you always know that you wanted to open a bookstore? If so, did you ever imagine that most of your inventory would be books written by black authors?
My childhood dream was to become an author and truck driver. However, as I grew older, I shifted gears, trading the allure of the open road for the world of numbers as an accountant. I am neither an accountant nor an author. But it wasn’t until 2019 that a new passion to open a bookstore started living rent free in my head. Attending events hosted by black indie authors, I was moved by their shared experience of the struggle for representation in stores and the considerable effort they expended to connect with readers. This sparked a strong desire within me to establish a bookstore; a place where these voices could be amplified and celebrated, ultimately altering my life’s course in ways I hadn’t initially planned.
2. What have been some of your biggest accomplishments since opening The Book Readers Venue?
Celebrating our 1-year anniversary. As you know, many people say brick and mortar bookstores are a dying breed, so to be open a full year was pure joy. We have been successful in curating an inventory of books written by indie authors, with emphasis on authors of color. We’ve hosted several events connecting readers with their favorite author. We even had the honor of hosting an 8-year-old author debuting her first book.
3. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in your business?
The biggest challenge I had to overcome was myself. I continued to get in my way by second guessing my purpose. Once I decided to trust that God would not have given me this vision if it wasn’t something He wanted me to do, things started to fall in place. My other challenge was learning how to obtain inventory and not solely relying on my reading list. I had to make time to look at what others were reading to ensure I was curating inventory by a diverse group of authors. Low foot traffic and bringing awareness to the bookstore is still an opportunity we are working to overcome.
4. We are sure that you absolutely love what you do, so what is your favorite part about running your bookstore?
There are so many joys to running the bookstore because I can’t pick just one. I would first say I like talking to the readers, getting to know them, and finding the book that draws them into the indie community. My second favorite is the joy I see on an author’s face when they walk in the store and see their books and the books of their author friends on the shelf. Many of them didn’t think they would see their work in a brick-and-mortar bookstore.
5. Is there anything that you find yourself avoiding when it comes to your business?
I find myself shying away from social media, as it is not my greatest strength. I am getting better at it, but I do avoid it when possible. As the bookstore continues to succeed, this will be a task I will gladly handoff to our newest team member.
6. It’s mentioned on The Book Readers Venue website that your niche is Romance and Romantic Suspense, but a little birdy told me that you’re looking to broaden the store’s selection to include more Urban fiction books. Do you get a lot of requests for more of these kinds of books?
I received requests from some bookstore patrons, ages 21-40 for this genre and because my goal is to share the works with the readers. It was only prudent to listen to my customers and bring in a few to see how it works out, as it doesn’t veer much from my original intent. It is my belief that people would read more if they were presented with books that call out to them.
7. What other genres do people ask you to pick up?
I get requests for history books a lot. I don’t carry them in the store, but I will special order them if they are available from the distributor.
8. If indie authors were interested in getting their books on your shelves, how would they go about doing that?
If the author is local, I encourage them to visit the store and we will chat about the next steps. The other option is to send an email to email@example.com with a link to their catalog or the list of books they are wanting to be in the store for my review, along with their preferred contact information.
9. Who would you say that your bookstore would be perfect for?
The store is perfect for women ages 18 and up with a love for romance and romantic suspense especially works written by authors of color. I would also encourage anyone wanting to diversify their reading portfolio because we are able to provide individual attention to assist with their new reading journey. We also have children and young adult books that make searching for books at our store a family affair.
10. If a new customer came into your store today, what about The Book Readers Venue shopping experience would keep them coming back?
The cozy and welcoming atmosphere of the store from the moment they walk in makes them feel right at home. The personal attention shown to each customer while searching for the next good book. The uniqueness of our inventory sets us apart from other stores. The Rim, as we call it, is fully stocked with books signed by the author and is specially curated for the customer that can’t pass up a signed copy from their favorite author, but they also entice new readers.
11. It’s also mentioned on the bookstore’s website that you want to diminish the frustration that African-American readers experience searching for books written by other African-American authors that they can relate to. What other intentions do you have when it comes to your The Book Reader’s Venue?
In the upcoming months we will be hosting the Winter Words Book Fair: Multi Author Book signing in December. This event is to celebrate local authors of color and encourage the community to give the gift of reading for the holidays. Long term, we want to go from being open 3 days a week to being open 5 days a week so we can continue to grow our reading community, share our passion and support for emerging indie authors. We aim to give them visibility by helping their voices reach a broader audience and connecting with the community by hosting more events, book clubs and discussions to bring readers together, encouraging conversations, connections, and shared experiences around literature.
Thank you so much for your time. URBAN AINT DEAD is a big fan of you and your store. Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?
We want our adult reading community to be reading mentors to our young adults, and adult non-readers. Encourage them to read just 10-15 minutes per day. Remind them that books are not just for educational purposes. Reading can be fun. As it relates to fictional books, my moto is “I don’t read to learn, but I always learn when I read.” Find your flavor and get into it.
Again, thank you so much Sherrele for your time and giving us some insight into your creative mind and your amazing business.
If you enjoy this kind of content, please feel free to drop some names of people in the comments who you would love to have featured on the URBAN AINT DEAD blog!