Inside Iowa's Newest Black-Owned Bookstore
Photo Credit: Soul Book Nook Founder Amber Collins

Photo Credit: Soul Book Nook Founder Amber Collins

Inside Iowa's Newest Black-Owned Bookstore

Parker Diakite
Parker Diakite Sep 8, 2020

Amber Collins grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, but her love for reading came from her time as a child in south-central Los Angeles, where she would spend the summers with her mom.

During her trips to L.A., she was a frequent visitor to one of the West Coast’s most iconic bookstores: The Aquarian Bookshop.

Historians have long regarded the shop as one of the longest continuously-Black-owned bookstores in the U.S. until it burned down in the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

For Collins, it was a hub for meeting Black authors and celebrities in the 1980s.

“That was when I knew that I would one day own a book store,” she told The Courier. “As I got older, that vision of what I would have in the book shop kept materializing.”

Her dream is now a reality after opening the latest Black-owned bookstore in Waterloo, Iowa, called The Soul Book Nook.

The inventory offers something for everyone, including children’s books and products from Collins’ wellness site The Healing Source.

She plans to set up a book club, host artists, and eventually serve hot drinks to give customers the entire “bookstore experience.”

“Physically coming to read a book, I believe, is fundamental to the well-being of a person’s thoughts and minds and what they’re feeling at the time,” Collins said. “Come visit, come browse. … This is a community.”

Her normal hours until the public health emergency is over will be Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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