The late science-fiction author Octavia Butler has received numerous honors in her hometown of Pasadena, California — including a middle school named after her. Now, she’s getting a bookstore.
Octavia’s Bookshelf, which opened in February, is the first and only Black-owned bookstore in Pasadena. The establishment joins the country’s roughly 2,500 independent bookstores, only 6 percent of which are owned by Black Americans.
Its founder, Nikki High, a long-time admirer of Butler’s work, told The Guardian she wants the store to reflect Butler’s values and to carry books by authors of color. The shop also sells a collection of gifts, home products and quirky items that highlight influential Black women literary figures.
About 200 people from the Pasadena neighborhood and nearby Los Angeles attended the store’s opening weekend. High has received enormous support since writing a tweet about her new venture on New Year’s Eve 2022 that instantly went viral with 5.1 million views and brought in over $22,000 in donations to the store’s GoFundMe.
High said that without these donations, she wouldn’t have been able to open the bookstore with the freedom she has now. “I wanted [my bookstore] to be completely independent so that I would not have to compromise my values,” she told The Guardian.
The store’s namesake is perhaps best known for “Kindred,” a novel that combines time travel and slave narratives, which was first published in 1979 and recently turned into a Hulu series.
With all the new attention, High is talking about hosting art workshops, educational programs and other events to elevate Black voices.