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Words Unite: The Co-Op Built on Collaboration and Community


By Zoe Perzo

Located in Texas on the military installation Fort Cavazos, Words Unite Bookstore is on a mission to promote independent authors. 

I talked to Words Unite owner, Ashley Marie Booker-Knight, to learn more about the store’s origin, operation, and mission. Words Unite founder, Ashley Booker-Knight sits behind a row of books.

“Words Unite Bookstore originated from a passion for literature and a desire to amplify local writers,” said Booker-Knight. “My journey into bookselling began with a vision to create a space that not only showcases local authors but also operates as a cooperative, fostering a sense of community unity that can't be outdone.”

In line with this vision, Words Unite exclusively carries titles written by indie authors. They also opted to operate as a co-op rather than a traditional bookstore. 

When I asked about the challenges of the co-op model, Booker-Knight admitted there were “unique challenges in terms of coordination and balancing diverse author perspectives.” But overall, being a co-op offers advantages like “collective decision-making” and suits the collaborative and community aspects of the store’s mission.

In fact, those values of collaboration and community show through in all of the work Words Unite does. In addition to their brick-and-mortar storefront, Words Unite operates pop-ups throughout the community, hosts events, and creates resources.

For example, for Black History Month, Words Unite created a gallery of Black Indie Authors that featured dozens of creators!

“Our Black Indie Authors gallery for Black History Month was a celebration of diversity in literature. It was an opportunity to highlight the incredible work of Black authors, fostering awareness and appreciation,” said Booker-Knight.

Words Unite Bookstore also works with multiple organizations to give back to the community. Booker-Knight told me about one such collaboration with Black History 365 Education, an organization that creates textbooks and other educational resources for K–12. 

“Through initiatives [like this], we aim to give back and contribute to the cultural and educational growth of our community,” she said. “Literacy skills are continually declining and we aim to close the gaps by improving the access to quality literature and true history.” 

And looking ahead, Words Unite is only going to continue to step up their offerings!

Booker-Knight teased, “Stay tuned for announcements that promise to enhance the literary experience for our patrons. We aim to amp up the education section of our services to help more authors become successful on their authorship journey.”

As our interview wrapped up, I asked if Booker-Knight had any advice to offer to prospective booksellers.

“Reflecting on my bookselling journey,” she said, “I wish I had known sooner the importance of adaptability and embracing change in this dynamic industry. My advice to those interested in bookselling is to be open to innovation, stay connected with the community, and continuously evolve with the industry trends.”

“The bottom line is we as booksellers survive by our community supporting local businesses and authors. It's a reciprocal relationship that strengthens the literary ecosystem.”

Throughout our interview, it was clear how deeply Booker-Knight cares for her community, her readers, and her authors. I can’t wait to see what Words Unite does next.

To learn more about this amazing bookstore, you can visit their website, or follow them on Facebook and Instagram. And if you find yourself in Fort Cavazos, be sure to make a stop at Words Unite!