News & Politics

Antiracism Books Are Sold Out Right Now. Here’s a Free, No-Wait Way to Get Some of Them.

The DC Public Library now has unlimited copies of "White Fragility" and other books to download.

Thanks to so many lists of antiracism books circulating over the past ten days, copies of must-reads like Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be An Antiracist and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism have become difficult to land, if you want a hard copy anyway. Booksellers big and small, from Amazon to Mahogany Books, a black-owned bookstore in Anacostia, are saying titles are out of stock or on backorder.

The DC Public Library has been experiencing a different version of the same problem. A spokesman for the library says it saw demand for those two books, among others, “shoot up exponentially” after the killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day. That week, the number of holds placed on White Fragility, for example, went from less than 10 a day to nearly 150 holds per day by the end of the week.

Librarians looked into how they could meet the surging demand for books about race and ended up changing their licenses on a number of e-books and audible books, so customers will no longer have to wait for certain titles and can check them out instantly.

The Library now has unlimited downloads available for the following e-books:

Why We Can’t Wait, by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Unapologetic: A Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Our Movement, by Charlene Carruthers

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, by Layla F. Saad

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo

The Library now has unlimited downloads of the following audible books:

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, by Manning Marable,

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, by Janet Mock

Sister Outsider—Essays and Speeches Crossing Press Feminist Series, Book 1, by Audre Lorde

So You Want to Talk about Race, by Ijeoma Oluo.

Note: The DCPL site may say “1 of 2 copies available” or “1 of 29 copies available,” etc., but the actual number of copies, according to a library spokesman, is indeed unlimited, so there should not be an issue with check-out.

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Kristen Hinman
Articles Editor

Kristen Hinman has been editing Washingtonian’s features since 2014. She joined the magazine after editing politics & policy coverage for Bloomberg Businessweek and working as a staff writer for Voice Media Group/Riverfront Times.