Online Book Retailer, Mahogany Books, Focuses on Promoting and Preserving the Literature of African-American Culture

Ramunda Young Photo by Kathy Strauss
Ramunda Young
Photo by Kathy Strauss

Mahogany Books, owned by husband and wife team, Derrick and Ramunda Young, is an online book retailer promoting and preserving the literature of the African-American culture. Unlike many online retailers, the Youngs and Mahogany Books strive to maintain visibility in the local community and spend their time promoting literacy. Prince William Living caught up with the Youngs to learn more about Mahogany Books and their community efforts.

PWL: How did you decide to open Mahogany Books as such a niche business? Why is the niche important as opposed to being a general book retailer?

Ramunda Young: The decision to open Mahogany Books as a niche business was really a joint decision. Derrick and I both have a love of books and experience working in a bookstore in our pasts. We also share a passion to promote authors and literature that are relevant to the African-American experience.

While we grew up in different parts of the country, we both attended historically black colleges. I graduated from Langston University in Oklahoma and Derrick from Bowie State in Maryland. Later we both worked for Karibu Books at different times. Karibu is a specialty bookstore promoting African American literature. Derrick worked there while he was in college, and I worked there eight years later.

One of the reasons that this made sense to us was because we can make books accessible for all customers. People won’t be limited by the selection offered by a local retailer. Secondly, the books we sell are important for everyone. Books by black authors are everyone’s history and impact everyone.

Derrick Young: The issue of identity matters. Books by African American authors help people become comfortable with who they are. Major bookstores often have only a small segment of their store designated for African-American authors. If one saw that as a snapshot of African-American authors, it would not reflect the larger impact of black authors. Our ability to support black authors allows them to keep producing their literature. We feel it is important so that their voices continue to be heard and their art does not die out. Our motto is #blackbooksmatter.

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SOURCE: Prince William Living
Tracy Shevlin