2002: 365, 24-7: the many faces of African American theme calendars.

Author:Murray, Cori M.
Position:Cover Story - Cover Story

Mass-market calendar publishers and black presses are opening the floodgates of African American theme products this coming year. Say so long to generic black-and-white calendars. Track your days with an exciting selection of subjects and images that celebrate the enthusiast in us all.

"When you see a calendar in someone's office, it's a reflection of something they love or something that engages them--a hobby or an interest," says Robin Haywood, director of calendars and book publishing at Ronnie Sellers Productions, which just published the first calendar of artist Faith Ringgold. Haywood was introduced to Ringgold's "Women on the Bridge" series a few years ago. Her favorite piece was "Tar Beach." The calendar, Faith Ringgold: African American Artist (Ronnie Seller, ISBN 1-569-06291-9), is a collection of 12 paintings by Ringgold with notes about each piece. The companion address book will be available in January.

"There is a market for African American calendars," says Haywood. "At trade shows, people specifically ask us for African American theme products" she added.

Cherysse Calhoun of Marcus Books in Oakland and San Francisco sees the market growing as well. "People come out and ask for ones that have been out for a few years and expect them the following year," she says. I Dream a World (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, ISBN 1-556-70564-6), Women of the African Ark (Pomegranate, ISBN 0-764-91576-2) and The Art of Annie Lee (Shades of Color, ISBN 1-891-93224-1) calendars always go first."

"The calendar market is really big for us," says Sonia Babers, owner of The Black Book Worm in Fort Worth. "I never thought it would mushroom like it has." Her customers are indicative of the trend. In the past, calendars start selling at her store as the holidays approached. Now she gets inquiries as early as September. Her bestsellers are Women (and Men) of the African Ark (Pomegranate, Men, ISBN 0-764-90885-5) and 365 days of Black History (African American Greetings, ISBN 0-764-91553-3).

Top sellers at Afro Books in Memphis include the African American line from Pomegranate as well and the semi-nude photo calendars from Rundu (Rundu Enterprises, ISBN 0-962-99877-X). "Those sell a lot," says Pius Eze, bookstore manager.

"We've been around for 13 years and every year there are a lot more ethnic calendars," says Eso Won Books owner James Fugate, who says some customers come into his Los Angeles store only for calendars, spending as much as $200 on them...

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