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Reaching Readers: Black Bookstore Owners in Conversation

Thursday, July 11, 2024


1:00 pm Eastern


Association of American Literary Agents In Conversation Series

Sponsored by Literary Agents of Change, the Association of American Literary Agents’ (AALA) DEI Committee is pleased to present the second in our series of “In Conversation” events, a discussion between Jeannine Cook, owner of Harriet’s Bookshop in Philadelphia and Ida’s Bookshop in Collingswood, NJ; Malik Muhammad, founder and co-owner of Malik Books with locations in Los Angeles and Culver City; and Karen Torres of KT Consulting. Bookstores are a crucial component to getting books in readers’ hands but the buying-in process can be opaque. This will be an in-depth conversation about the contemporary landscape of bookbuying and bookselling, running a focused bookstore, the many factors that influence how shelves are curated, and how industry professionals can be strong partners in meeting the needs and interests of Black readers.

The “In Conversation” events are designed to provide opportunities for learning, listening, and growth along the DEI continuum across industry lines – the series will be open to all publishing professionals. Please feel free to invite your publishing colleagues (those working in editorial, marketing, publicity, sales departments, as well as booksellers and agents not yet members of AALA).


Jeannine A. Cook is the owner of Harriett’s Bookshop in Philadelphia, Ida’s Bookshop in Collingswood, NJ, and Josephine’s Bookshop a mobile installation in Paris, France. She is a writer, designer, consultant, and activist. In addition to a holding a master’s degree from The University of the Arts and MFA from Drexel University, Jeannine is also recipient of the Leeway Art & Transformation award, recipient of the Philadelphia Cultural Treasures award, winner of the Black Girl Magic award, and was named 100 Most Influential in Philadelphia, Philadelphia Inquirer’s Best of Philly, Women Leading the 175th, the PACDC Equitable Entrepreneur Award, and the Metro’s Power Women Award. She is a proud educator and mother with years of experience teaching creative storytelling in alternative environments from bodegas to city blocks. She is most recently the author of the self-published children’s book, Harriett’s.

Malik Muhammad is the founder and co-owner of Malik Books, a pivotal independent bookstore with a rich history and a strong commitment to promoting African American culture, education, and community engagement, with locations in Los Angeles and Culver City, California. Malik considers himself first and foremost a Book Activist. Through his charitable efforts in 2023, Malik has given away over 10,000 books to underserved children and youth in Los Angeles. Malik is also a 1984 Olympian in track and field and a youth development sprint coach who set national records.

Karen Torres is a seasoned publishing professional. She has over 36 years of sales and account marketing experience at the Hachette Book Group, home to countless bestselling authors. She was involved from the acquisition stage to the marketing and planning of selling to the indie market and getting books into the hands of readers everywhere. She managed the independent field group and oversaw the Indie business for a good portion of her career. She recently established KarenTorresConsulting.Com, offering support to publishers, agents, authors, book clubs, and bookstores (new and old). Karen is a graduate of NYU and Cooper Union and in 2023 she was named a Publishers Weekly notable person of the year. She is currently serving as a trustee of the Professional Bookseller School.

Registration for this event is direct through Zoom and open to the broader publishing industry.