Simba Sana, cofounder and former leader of huge indie bookselling entity Karibu Books, steps to the other side of the industry with the release of his new memoir Never Stop.
Called a "candid testimony of struggle and achievement" by Kirkus Reviews, Never Stop delves into Sana's complicated past. The book reveals how his experience with Karibu jumpstarted his lifelong journey to better understanding himself, human nature, faith, and American culture—which ultimately helped him develop the powerful personal philosophy that drives his life today.
In celebration of the memoir's pub date (today!), we're sharing a Q&A with the author in which he discusses hard life choices, how he handles sex as an author, and what's next for him.
Q&A with Simba Sana, author of Never Stop
What compelled you to write Never Stop at this point in your life? Why now?
There was something I discovered which compelled me to tell my story. This discovery, resulting from a life-long inquiry, had to do with love and the importance of one’s inner journey. I first had an inkling to write a memoir in college. Over the next 20 years, a number of people suggested I write a book, but the busyness of my life as an entrepreneur kept me away from it. I was finally compelled to write after my business closed and there was no longer an excuse to not take up the task. In a speech, J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, referred to this as the “taking away of the inessential.
You spent the beginning of your professional career at Ernst & Young. What drove your shift to the book industry?
After working for a food-service entrepreneur and a brief stint peddling drugs in high school, I was intrigued with becoming a business owner. By the time I was working at Ernst & Young (EY), my interest in reading and books was at a heightened state. Then, on Black Friday in 1992, I helped my eventual business partner at his vending stand near Howard University, and we made good money in just four hours. The wheels started churning in my mind about making an immediate leap into entrepreneurship. I resigned from EY less than two months later.
Your book deals with a great deal of very painful life experience. What part of Never Stop was most difficult for you to write?
The final section on wisdom was definitely the most challenging to write because I had to balance openness and honesty in the telling of my story, respect for the privacy of others, and a conclusion that would resonate with readers.
Your book doesn’t shy away from dealing with sex. What made you decide to delve into an area a lot of people tend to avoid discussing?
I didn’t feel it was possible to truly tell my story without revealing some of my encounters involving sex. Sex holds such a prominent place in our daily lives. As a possible benefit to others, I wanted to detail my effort to overcome the sexual urge and the seeking of pleasure as an escape.
Was there anything that surprised you during the process of writing the book?
The process of writing the book was at least as difficult as I thought it would be. What surprised me was that I wrote most of the book under a feeling of duress.
What do you hope readers will take away from Never Stop?
The things that compelled me to write the book: the primacy of love and the importance of focusing on one’s inner development as a way to happiness.
You started off in the book industry at Karibu as a bookseller and now you’ve written a book of your own. What’s it like to be on the other side of the business?
This is a question I can probably better answer sometime after the book’s release. At present, I’m working diligently to get the word out and hoping the book will resonate with those who read it. Of course, I have some degree of suspense over how people will react to my story.
What’s next for you?
Living the life of a philosopher, for lack of a better word, who can travel to discuss some of the things explored in my book, would be great. I’ll have to see what life brings.