Author: Dara Mathis

Shop Talk with Tia Hamilton of Urban Reads Bookstore

Tia Hamilton is the founder and owner of Urban Reads Bookstore, which uplifts Black and incarcerated authors. Urban Reads is based in Baltimore, Maryland. You can follow and support Urban Reads on Instagram. Tell me about your journey to become a bookseller. Why did you open a bookstore?  My magazine, it’s called The State vs. Us Magazine, it taps into the streets and prison and highlights high-profile cases. It talks about the corruption that goes on in the prison, police, and government. It highlights wrongful convictions and success stories of the formerly incarcerated, such as myself. So, I rolled it up in a dope situation, and it’s in the prisons; it’s the number-one source from prisons to the streets, and there’s no other magazine like it. I wanted a store presence. I went to Downtown Locker Room (DTLR), which is an apparel sneaker store where a lot of the gangsters go. I went to these locations with no success. So, I said, “Fuck it. Ya’ll want me in the game? I’m in the game.” But …

Shop Talk with Katherine Morgan of Grand Gesture Books

Katherine Morgan is the founder and owner of Grand Gesture Books, a new, online-only (for now!) bookshop that specializes in romance books. Grand Gesture opened in November 2023 and is based in Portland, Oregon. You can follow Katherine and Grand Gesture’s journey on Instagram. What led you to open a romance bookstore? It felt like a natural kind of instinct to do. I’ve been working as a bookseller at Powell’s Books for about four-and-a-half years. I currently still work there, running the romance section, and it’s always been my happy place, especially since I got into romance during the pandemic. There are so many romance bookstores, which is great, but very few of them are in the Pacific Northwest.  I knew, based on how much traffic the romance section gets, that if there are this many people who are interested in it, there are going to be people who are interested that live in Portland, or Washington, and want to travel down. That’s when I got the idea: I don’t know if [a romance bookstore] …