Nationwide support keeps Black-owned bookstore open in Kokomo

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KOKOMO — In the book business, shelf space is prime real estate, and it all depends on where and how a book is displayed.

“Black books and Black authors, we don’t normally get those spaces,” said DeAndra Beard, owner of Beyond Barcodes Bookstore.  

The selection at Beyond Barcodes Bookstore is special.

“80-85% of our book collection are by and/or about people of color, and that’s on purpose. In this middle of this city, that’s on purpose,” said Beard.

Beard has owned the bookstore along Main Street for about five and a half years. She’s been working on a down payment to buy the building, but the money just wasn’t there, especially during a pandemic. She was worried she’d have to close.

“You just keep going until you can’t go anymore. You just keep going,” said Beard.

As protests over police brutality and racial injustice continue across the country, there’s been a push to support small, Black owned businesses. Beyond Barcodes Bookstore made a list of businesses to support. Beard did some national interviews, and then the next thing you know, her sales started to surge.

“I call it a bittersweet moment. We all understand the bitter and the things that have happened in our nation and seeing black bodies fall with police violence over and over, very bitter. The sweet part of it is how people this time decided to respond,” explained Beard.

Books don’t even make it to the shelf, and Beard has now shipped books to all 50 states.

“My thoughts have not caught up with actions because you don’t really have time to think,” said Beard.

People are buying books to learn how to be an anti-racist and to get a better understanding of equality. Some books are so popular they’re backordered everywhere.  

“It’s just been an amazing moment in time, in history. I hope it’s one that we never forget not go backwards. Order the books but read them,” said Beard.

This bookstore owner knows someday we’ll read about this historic response in our country, but right now, those books aren’t on the shelves, the chapters are still being written.

“There are no words for that. People want to see change,” said Beard.

At last check, more than $30,000 has been donated through a GoFundMe account set up for the bookstore. Beard tells FOX59/CBS4 that between donations and sales, she’ll be able to keep her store open whether it’s in the same location or somewhere else in Kokomo.

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