Grand Opening of Black-Owned Independent Bookstore, Octavia’s Bookshelf, Today

Published on Feb 18, 2023

Nikki High, owner of new Pasadena independent bookstore, Octavias’s Bookshelf. [Courtesy photo]

Saturday, the Pasadena community is set to welcome a new literary and business addition, Octavia’s Bookshelf, a Black-owned independent bookstore that promises to inspire readers of all ages. 

“I’ve always dreamed of owning my own bookstore. I started to visualize what that would look like in real life a few years ago. After my grandmother passed unexpectedly in May of 2022 I decided to take the leap,” owner Nikki High said. 

The bookstore was imagined by High as “a place of gathering and community that prioritizes Black, Indigenous, and people of color authors.”

Octavia’s Bookshelf’s grand opening at 1361 North Hill Ave is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18 at 10 a.m.

But what inspired High to name her bookstore after Octavia Butler? 

For those who may not know, Butler was a renowned Black author who was born in Pasadena. She broke barriers with her science fiction and speculative fiction writing, becoming the first Black woman to receive the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards. Butler’s work often explored themes of race, gender, and power, making her an inspiration for many people, including High.

High’s vision for Octavia’s Bookshelf is to be a platform for marginalized voices and to help readers discover new perspectives through the written word. 

The shelves are stocked with a diverse range of books, with a particular focus on works by Black, Latino, Indigenous, and other authors of color. 

“Octavia’s Bookshelf is unique because it will offer books and other items by BIPOC authors and makers. There are such rich stories being told and OB makes it easy for readers of all ages and backgrounds to find those books,” High said. 

High wants the store to be a welcoming space for people of all backgrounds to come and explore literature that they may not have encountered elsewhere.

Opening the bookstore out of her own pocket, High decided to start a GoFundMe page in the hopes that it would offset some of the costs. 

“I am self funding this entire venture so the gofundme is extremely important.” High told Pasadena Now in early January. 

The GoFundMe page began to attract national attention and as of this writing raised $22,119 in support of Pasadena’s newest bookstore. 

High, who left her job in the corporate world to start her own bookstore, has been a lifelong book lover. 

“As an early reader, books not only provided me with new worlds to discover but also allowed me to escape to places unknown. In these spaces, I was allowed to cheer for my favorite characters and mourn them, but more importantly, I could see myself and what my life could become,” according to High.

Despite independent bookstores facing significant challenges in recent years, High is optimistic about the future of Octavia’s Bookshelf. She believes that there is a strong desire in the community for a space like this, and she’s committed to making it a success.

Octavia’s Bookshelf, 1361 North Hill Ave., Pasadena. For more call (626) 392-4068 or visit

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