Rachel Moulden for Digital First Media
Husband and wife Reginald and Janeice Haynes recognized a need in their community and did something about it. Late last year, the couple opened Detroit Book City in Southfield, an independent bookstore that amplifies diverse voices by local and independent authors in the Metro Detroit area and beyond.
Janeice Haynes, who has a background in publishing and graphic design, previously worked with young people to share their stories in the magazines Detroit Urban Teen and Louisville Urban Teen. She also had a long career in human resources. Her passion for the literary world led to creation of the store.
“The market has shown that print is not going anywhere even though digital sales are up,” she says.
Haynes started in the book business buying and selling books online after amassing a large number of books. While growing her business online, she saw a demand for a wide variety of multicultural/African-American books. Readers and local indie authors began contacting her, saying they wanted a physical place where they could buy similar books.
She decided to host an African-American Family Book Expo to test the waters. “I wanted to make sure there was a market for it,” Haynes says.
Their first expo, set up in the Northwest Activity Center in Detroit, was met with an overwhelming response, attracting about 800 attendees.
“Jesse Jackson, by chance, stopped in our event to check out the book authors,” Haynes says. “We believe Jesse Jackson was listening to 910 AM radio station at the time and headed over to our event — we had a live broadcast set up all day with 910 AM (Superstation).”
After the positive response from the Expo, Hayes and her husband decided to open up a store. They found space in the Stratford Building on Greenfield Road in Southfield, and had their grand opening on Dec. 2, 2017. Detroit Book City has gotten great feedback from the surrounding community.
Detroit Book City carries new and gently used books on consignment in a wide variety of genres including children’s, self-help, spiritual, memoirs and biographies. They also emphasize books written by local and national indie authors and rare, hard to find or out-of-print African-American books. Their highest selling items are black history and nonfiction books.
“As an independent bookstore, Detroit Book City has a personable approach,” Haynes says. “We’re more inclined to order the books customers want. We take pride in our customer service, and can diversify product lines compared to bigger stores.”
On top of managing the book store, Haynes and her husband are the owners of Around D-Town Promotions, which offers design service for apparel, signage and prints. A lot of her own graphic design work is incorporated into the store, as well.
The store hosts author events, such as book signings, and broadcasts the day’s events via Detroit Book City’s Facebook Live page to give the authors extra exposure. In addition, Haynes is already planning a third annual African-American Family Book Expo on Feb. 24, which will feature author talks, book signings and more.
This week, Detroit Book City will start a new tradition, hosting its inaugural Spooktacular Book Drive at the store the day before Halloween.
“It’s how we celebrate harvest and Halloween together,” Haynes says, “giving away a book to a special kid to empower literacy in our community.” They plan to give away 100 books to kids from infant to teens. Interested parents should register in advance via Eventbrite: bit.ly/2RfcZgf.
Haynes says the most rewarding part of being a book store owner is watching people read and engage in something that will change their world.
“There is always excitement about wanting to read and it is the key of academic success,” she says.
• Detroit Book City is in The Stratford Building, 24361 Greenfield Road, Ste. 305, Southfield. It is open noon-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. For more information about the store and its upcoming events, visit detroitbookcity.com.