Sunday, September 30, 2007

Two Years Ago - Black New Yorkers: Booklover hopes to profit from his passion

Black New Yorkers: Booklover hopes to profit from his passion
by Tanangachi Mfuni, Amsterdam News Staff

Originally Published Vol. 97 No. 40 September 28-October 4, 2006 © 2006, Amsterdam News

When Harlemite Troy Johnson launched a website dedicated to Black books nearly eight years ago, it came out of “a passion for Black people,” he said.

Today, Johnson’s African American Literary Book Club ( is a virtual watering hole for Black booklovers and has been called the most popular website dedicated to African-American literature.

“It’s probably a statement of fact,” the 44-year-old originator of the site that reviews books, hosts discussions, profiles authors and promotes book events, in addition to other services for the Black literary world said casually.

Sitting down with the AmNews in his study, Johnson is surrounded by walls lined with books—most of which he said he hasn’t read.

Johnson, who holds two degrees in engineering and an MBA, launched the book club website in the wake of juggernauts like and But unlike those mega book websites, draws a particular type of reader, mostly educated women, Johnson said.
“They can [be] reach[ed] with laser-light precision, this audience,” said Johnson, who’s currently in the process of soliciting advertisers. Though holding down a comfortable day job with a global investment firm, Johnson still wants to do more.

“It’s lucrative, but I do it at this point because I have to,” the webmaster explained, reflecting on his day gig. “One of the things they don’t teach you in majority [white] schools is to be entrepreneur. They teach you to go out and get a job,” Johnson said.

The 44-year-old, who grew up in Harlem’s Johnson Houses, returned to the neighborhood years later and purchased an abandoned shell of a house blocks away from where he grew up. He’s renovated it into the chic brownstone where he currently resides with his wife and two daughters.

For a kid growing up in the projects, Johnson’s success, compared with that of his peers, is impressive, but not impossible.

“We see struggle as a bad thing,” said Johnson. But the graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School, who went on to pursue electrical engineering at Syracuse University then complete several masters degrees from Polytechnic University and New York University’s Stern School of Business, sees struggle as survival.

“If we’re not struggling, we’re not going to get to another level or state,” said Johnson.
Clearly, he’s looking to take to the next level. As he branches out, Johnson is encouraged by the growth he has seen in the field of Black literature. When the website began, the number of Black books available to the public was minimal. However with many authors self publishing and using the web as a marketing tool to sell their literature, the field has exploded, making it harder to catalogue all the blossoming Black writers and books on the website.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

2007 Outstanding Alumni Award from Syracuse University

It has been almost 30 years since I first set foot on the Syracuse University Campus during, what I believe was, the 1st Empire State Games. I was a gymnast representing the New York City Region.

Even as a kid from the big city I was overwhelmed by the size and facilities offered by the University. SU was the first major university campus I ever visited; and this is the primary reason I chose to apply. I applied early admission and never seriously considered another school.

This is way I'm very honored to be selected a recipient of this year's Outstanding Alumni Award. I was nominated and recommended by some very special people in the publishing industry.

September 24, 2007

Dear Troy:

On behalf of the Office of Alumni Relations, please accept my congratulations on your acceptance of the 2007 Outstanding Alumni Award. Syracuse University is proud of your loyalty and commitment and is honored to call you an alumnus.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Just Few Popular Books on

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Troy Johnson, Founder of is interviewed by Darryl Jenkins

Troy Johnson, Founder of is interviewed by Darryl Jenkins on Winbrook Pride TV.
(time: 28 min 53 sec)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stevie Wonder Concert Clip

I drove from NYC and paid almost 3 times face for a pair of tickets to see Stevie Wonder perform on a chilly evening on the Baltimore harbor.

I'd easily place this in the top 5 concerts I've ever seen. It was more than nostalgia, it was simply a great concert -- no gimmicks, not fancy footwork or pyrotechnics -- just great music and lyrics.

Stevie performed for 2.5 hours and played nothing but hits. He could have continued all night and and the crowd would have loved it.

My only complaint would be the lack of a horn section. The missing brass was most noticeable on Superstition. Other than that I have no complaints.

Stevie's 70's classic still resonate today. He augmented the lyrics of some of his older classics to speak directly to some of today's issues. He was political without being preachy.

Stevie said he would also be back in Baltimore to give a free concert, which would be tremendous. Stevie Wonder is a prime example of what is missing from popular music today.