African Flavour Books, a store that sells books by Africans, opened its second branch on September 2, 2017.
The South African literary industry is one of the most developed on our rock with a world class value chain from excellent publishers down to the distribution of the books in many bookshops and bookstores. Even with this system, like all Africans they have to suffer the same problem when they walk into their bookshops. Books from their contemporaries are hard to come by while you can always find John Grisham, JK Rowling, TD Jakes and that snake Joel Osteen at the front of the shop. Books by writers from the continent, who are writing up a storm nowadays, are found under a certain space called “Africana” or in the back never to be seen.
In 2013, a new type of book store called “African Flavour Books” founded by Fortescue and Nokuthula Helepi was opened in Vanderbijlpark. The book store premise was to provide high quality African products providing an excellent customer service. The products in question were African literature and vernacular literature from South Africa as well as music, movies and stationery.
The store started getting into the minds of the South African reader as they seemed to be the only ones that specialised on books from the continent. While they were not very close to the Joburg CBD, they would deliver wherever you were in Johannesburg. Their moment of glory came at the Abantu Book Festival in Soweto last December when they were selected to be the official festival bookstore. Hundreds of books were sold by delirious book buyers who were only happy to get their mitts on books by people who look like them.
On Saturday September 2, they made the big move to town and opened their new store in Braamfontein. Braam as it is also called is a central suburb of Johannesburg, in South Africa in which some of South Africa’s major corporations are housed. The launch of the bookstore was attended by book lovers like author Siphiwo Mahala and readers like Boitshepo Mvulane, Outlwile Tsipane and Nontobeko Smilo Dlamini who we last saw being the engine of the Abantu Book Festival last year.
Update: The African Flavour Books have been shut down.