Black Books Do Sell!

NICHE. IT'S a word I became all too familiar with during my time as the entertainment editor for The Voice.

Working for a black British publication, you quickly come to understand that ‘black’ and ‘niche’ often go hand in hand.

Whether it was toy retailers failing to stock black dolls or major book publishers being reluctant to publish black-interest titles, the justifi cation of these acts was often the same. Namely: Black-focused products ‘don’t sell.’ Why? Because the black British community is a ‘niche market’, which essentially means, we’re often not seen as a profi table market for major businesses.

Remember when our families had to go to cash and carries to buy our ackee, green banana or hard dough bread? Those wholesale stores were our food supply lifeline, until some of the major supermarkets decided black folks were profitable enough to be given a dedicated ‘ethnic’ section in their stores.

But even then, those sections were (and in some cases, still are) quite limited. Why? Because, in the grand scheme of British business, we’re often still considered a ‘niche market’. This was an issue I toyed with when I began penning my first children’s book, Riley Can Be Anything.

Long before the book came to life with illustrations, I knew my story would feature a little black boy named Riley as the main character.