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Duende-Word BIPOC Bookseller Award Logo

2023 Annual BIPOC Bookseller Award

Duende District & The Word continue with the annual BIPOC Bookseller Awards to celebrate and uplift the BIPOC independent booksellers whose dedication to indie bookstores and their Black, Indigenous and POC colleagues and communities have touched and influenced countless lives.


All BIPOC who work in U.S. independent bookstores in any capacity are eligible to be nominated for the three categories (nominations for the same bookseller in multiple categories is allowed). The winning booksellers will be honored during #MarginsBookselling Month celebrations, and will receive a plaque and a $1000 prize.



This award is for the bookseller who goes above and beyond to advocate for BIPOC booksellers and literary representation, in their stores and communities.


This award is for the bookseller whose vision, whether entrepreneurial or programmatic, has shown us what the future of the industry should be.


This award is for the bookseller who has dedicated their career to supporting, uplifting, and leading BIPOC booksellers in their stores, communities, regions, and/or nationally, fighting for systemic change for all BIPOC in the bookstore industry.

2023 BIPOC Bookseller Award Winners!


Winner of the Activism Award

Erica Tso Haidas is the founder of Belonging Books, a community program provider and pop-up bookstore that centers the voices and stories of people of color and other underrepresented people. She creates and holds space on Cape Cod for these communities to gather in joy, celebration, safety, and rest.

Erica is also a founding member of The Arts & Justice Collective, a collaboration of mission-driven organizations that creates a culture of belonging for members of historically-excluded communities through art and social justice. She furthers her racial justice work by practicing pro bono immigration law and volunteering with local racial equity nonprofits and committees.

Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, Erica spent close to a decade as an attorney in New York City before moving to the Cape. She lives in Brewster, MA, with her two young children, her partner, and sweet dog, Hazel.


Winner of the Innovation Award

Jhoanna Belfer is the founder and owner of Bel Canto Books, an independent bookstore with three locations in Long Beach CA. A Filipina-American poet and former hospitality executive, Belfer began hosting pop-up book events in 2018 as a way of connecting her business experience with her lifelong love of reading.


She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the California Independent Booksellers Alliance and is a founding member of the Burning Issues Book Club and the Indie Bookstore Field Trips group.


Winner of the Leadership Award

Egypt Otis is the Owner of Comma Bookstore & Social Hub, a dedicated Culture Worker, Community Organizer, and devoted mom. Her life’s mission centers around using social justice, BIPOC literature, and culture as powerful tools to mobilize communities into the arts and disrupt systems that marginalize them.

Born and raised with a boundless passion for social change, Egypt’s journey began in Flint, Michigan, where she cultivated her love for literature, BIPOC culture, and social justice. This led her to pursue a degree in political science at the University of Michigan-Flint, laying the foundation for her impactful future.

At the helm of Comma Bookstore & Social Hub, Egypt has created a safe haven that fosters inclusivity, representation, and creativity. Her bookstore has become a vibrant cultural hub, nurturing emerging talents and connecting diverse voices through literature, art, and activism.

As an unwavering advocate for social justice, Egypt has fearlessly championed causes that challenge systemic inequities. She believes in harnessing the power of storytelling and literature to reshape perspectives and drive transformative change.

Egypt’s unwavering dedication and commitment have garnered recognition from major organizations and corporations. Her ability to build sustainable relationships with influential entities such as MasterCard, The Jennifer Hudson Show, and Marvel, to being featured in media news outlets like the New York Times, Blavity, and Crains Detroit exemplifies her ability to leverage partnerships to make a social impact.

2023 Honorees:

All of our 2023 honorees are incredible and creative booksellers. Thank you to all of you for all you do!


AL Lazaro, Antonette Franceschi-Chavez, Chardai Powell, Destinee Hodge, Faith Emmert, Jaya Anderson, Julia Davis, Jurni Bayoc, Kaitee Tredway, Kimi Loughlin, Lilia Rosas, Lisa Moser, Lucy Yu, Molly’s Bookstore, OurWattsBookshop, Quen Everett, Reign Kingsberry, Sarah Rafael García, Shaquel, Tanvi Rastogi, Thu Doan, and Veronica Johnson

2023 BIPOC Bookseller Judges

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Corinne Acosta is the Book Floor Manager and Children’s Book Buyer at Lost City Books in Washington, DC. Born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago, she leads the Caribbean Book Club at the bookstore, and enjoys spreading her love for Caribbean storytelling.

Before entering the world of bookselling, she was an elementary school teacher where she taught mostly 1st and 2nd grade in DC, LA, and then back home in Trinidad. That experience has made being a children’s book buyer even more meaningful to her.

Aside from reading, Corinne is a lover of food, kettlebells, traveling, the ocean, and spending time with family and her cat, Genki Sudo.



Calvin Crosby, the majority shareholder and co-owner of Salt Lake City's The King's English Bookshop and Executive Director of Brain Food Books, a 501c3 that puts new books into the hands of those without regular access, has been in building community in bookselling for almost 30 years. He is a Binc Board Member, a 2022 Duende-Word BIPOC Leadership Award, and a juror for this year's National Book Award Foundations Fiction Category. Calvin's commitment to building equity around books and reading in communities without libraries, bookstores, or consistent access has been a lifelong mission. As a member of the Cherokee Nation, he believes in Land Back one Independent Bookstore at a time.

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Chawa Magaña is the steward of Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, a BIPOC owned and operated community space and bookstore located in central Phoenix that carries books in both the English and Spanish language, with a focus on literature by BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ authors.

As a first generation Mexican American, Chawa is passionate about holding space for historically marginalized communities to be able to share their stories to create and imagine liberated futures and present joy for each other, and ultimately all of us who endure the consequences of a dominantly white supremacist, patriarchal, and capitalist society. Literature is an accessible and very useful tool used in this work at Palabras and Nurture House, the collective literary focused space that Palabras resides in.

Chawa believes in resource sharing and the power of giving one another the space and grace to be vulnerable, allowing for authentic strength, healing, and compassion to inform and lead the work we do in our communities.

When Chawa is not working, you can assume she is doing something related to plant medicine (she’s also an herbalist), books, nature, or food.

Thank you for helping to support this award!

It is with our bookselling community's help that this award is made possible. Thank you for your support and for joining in this celebration.


Thank you to our #MarginsBookselling sponsors who ensure this award is brought to life!

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Additional Sponsors

Thank you to all our #MarginsBookselling donors who make this award possible!"

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