Whether it’s Michelle Obama’s new bestseller, Ziggy Marley’s cookbook or the autobiography of the first democratically elected president of Kenya—if it was written by a person of African descent, that book will be available for sale at Pyramid Books in Boynton Beach. Founded in 1993 by Akbar James Watson, Pyramid would have celebrated its 25th anniversary in June of 2018.
Instead, that month, it closed.
And that closure means there are only two African-American-owned and operated bookstores left in the entire state of Florida—and none in Palm Beach County. In fact, for most of the time Pyramid was open, it was alone here in that category.
In other words, it made history. Black history. It sold books, yes, but it also partnered with schools and educators to ensure children of African descent get exposed to age-specific works about their peoples and culture; it provided editing services for aspiring writers; and it hosted book signings, lectures and workshops. All that work continues, still, even though the store is no more.
“It’s life: you live, you die,” said Akbar, pictured, about the closing. “No, I didn’t want to close. I’m still a bookseller, just not at that location. But I’m not dead, I’m still here and I’m looking for a new spot.”
So why did it close? Pyramid outgrew its space, he said, yet the rent kept rising. Daily, in-store sales had become a challenge, too, he said, as people now get their information differently. Today’s bookstores also do more than sell books; they sell coffee, some sell cocktails, all provide spaces for people to, well, hang, while they read. Or look for something to read. Add to that giant bookstores and online sales. In other words, the game has changed.
Still, Akbar says Pyramid continues its partnerships with the school district and area businesses. It also is continuing to host the lectures, workshops and book signings it always did and it will also continue its weekly Sankofa Study Group, a book-reading club based at S.D. Spady Cultural Heritage Museum in Delray Beach. See the coco calendar for dates and times. It is still also selling books online–visit the website here--and continuing its skilled ability to locate out-of-print and hard-to-find books. And looking for a new location.