Chicago’s newest bookstore has recently opened in West Town. And while the launch of an independent bookstore is always cause for celebration, Semicolon Bookstore & Gallery is giving us even more reasons to cheer; it’s the only bookstore owned by a black woman in Chicago. Along with an excellent collection of curated titles for sale, it will also serve as a community space and art gallery specializing in the city’s street art scene.
The owner and manager DL Mullen launched Semicolon bringing with her a background in both writing and art curation. The bookshop is decorated with art—the north wall in particular features a mural from street artist Ahman Lee, where Frida Khalo and Jean-Michel Basquiat are depicted. The books are also displayed unconventionally compared to a traditional bookstore, on floor-to-ceiling shelves with their covers facing out, not unlike a gallery. Mullen hand-picked all 400 titles, grouping them by association rather than genre.
Mullen has also created a rotating gallery space, which will host artwork from a different featured artist every month. It will also serve as an area for author and artist talks.
Semicolon will provide services for self-publishing authors who need to print their manuscripts. With the help of the in-house Espresso Book Machine, authors can print up to 450 pages of their manuscript within one minute.
Semicolon—which Mullen chose as the store’s name because “it represents the point in a sentence where it could stop, but the author decides to proceed,”—is set to bridge the world of art and literature and Mullen is leading the way. “It means everything to me. To be able to create something that I love, as a black woman, that other black women and people can love just as much is a huge deal.”