For Keeps is not your typical bookstore. It’s not even your typical independent bookstore. The shop’s offerings—rare, hard-to-find, and classic books by Black authors from around the world as well as other niche Black artifacts—are an extension of owner Rosa Duffy’s obsessive personal collection, constituting what some have called “an interactive art museum of black thought.”
The bookstore is—by no coincidence—located by a downtown strip that Fortune magazine in 1956 described as “the richest Negro street in the world.”. Exposed red brick, checkerboard rugs, and well-worn loveseats welcome visitors from the urban bustle outside. Black artists’ work fills the spaces on the walls with welcome splashes of color (evidence of Duffy’s artistic roots), while iconic Black magazines like Jet and Dawn add an element of nostalgia. It’s the books piled high on the store’s tables and shelves, however, that make up the heart of For Keeps.
On any given day, visitors may find first edition copies of Alice Walker, out-of-print copies of Ralph Elison, a signed Sonia Sanchez cover, or niche titles from Octavia Butler. There’s political theory, philosophy, non-fiction, and sci-fi; books on Afro-futurism, Black history, autobiographies of revolutionaries, and collections of poetry.
A section called “On the Table” (literally a table in the center of the shop) retains For Keeps’ permanent collection which—while not for sale—contains some of the shops’ more specialized works and can only be read in-store, from Space Age Dream and Astrology Book to Swahili Names for Your Baby. More than simply a Black-owned business specializing in Black literature, it’s a meticulously curated retrospective on the global Black experience.
Know Before You Go
Open Thursday to Sunday, 12–5 p.m. If you don’t live in Atlanta but want to join the store’s Patreon, you can do so for $5 a month. You’ll receive excerpts from some of the shop’s favorite pieces, while supporting the bookstore.