Sunday, November 18, 2007

A discussion of GLBT bookstores closing

Quote of the week: "When the author finishes a book he has told the reader all about himself, though happily in a code that few can read. You cannot write well and shield your innermost self from scrutiny. Your writing -- good writing -- is all about your innermost self." – Victor Banis

The following information was brought to my attention through an online writers group that I belong to, and it was interesting enough that I wanted to pass on the key discussion points.

Word on the street is that Crossroads Market, the LGBT bookstore, in Dallas is closing. Unfortunately, this is a trend that has been going on for some time and still continues. Not so long ago there were 300 gay and lesbian-owned bookstores in the country -- today there are fewer than 75. The reasons are easy to understand -- Barnes and Noble, Borders and Amazon all sell gay and lesbian books at discounts they can obtain because of their volume buying power, whereas in the seventies and eighties only a few mainstream bookstores sold gay oriented books. Add this to the skyrocketing rents that brick and mortar bookstores are facing today, and the independent bookstores are being screwed from both ends.

The fact that the big names are finally selling gay books might seem like good news, both to gay authors and readers, but there is also a down side. These big corporations are not interested in promoting gay authors like the independents are. It is very difficult to arrange book signings and readings, and browsing through Borders is definitely not the same experience as browsing at GLBT stores for gay readers.

Many of us old-timers remember that the first place we went after coming out was to an LGBT bookstore, stores like Outwrite in Atlanta, Obelisk in San Diego, and A Different Light in LA and the Castro. It is up to the gay community to keep these places alive and flourishing by frequenting these store and buy merchandise. So what if it's $1.39 cheaper at the mall or easier online? If we allow the big chains and Amazon to gobble up all the independent GLBT bookstores, then we will have lost something valuable to our community, and something we probably will not be able to bring back.

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