Alex Blaze

San Francisco Gay Bookstore Closing

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 05, 2011 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living
Tags: California, Castro, LGBT, san francisco

Another gay bookstore is closing:

gay-bookstore.jpgThe Castro's A Different Light Bookstore, one of the few remaining LGBT bookstores in the United States, is apparently closing. This comes on the heels of the closure of the Mission's Modern Times, another independent progressive bookstore.

"Everything must go" signs were spotted in the store Saturday. Dismantled shelving sat in a pile in the back of the store. Neighborhood chatter is that doors will close for good this spring.

I guess this cruel world doesn't have much space anymore for a business model that combines reading, dead trees, queer separatism, and independence from corporate power.

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Annette Gross Annette Gross | April 5, 2011 2:05 PM

I wonder if this is also in response to on-line book sales and Kindles, etc. The GLBT bookstore here in Indianapolis closed a year or so ago. And my favorite Borders is closing here in Indianapolis.

One in Memphis just closed and one in New York closed recently too. There's one in Florida on the brink. Lambda Rising in DC closed too.

Online sales have a lot to do with it, especially since some of the stores don't charge sales tax since they operate out of states without any, they have a better selection, and people don't have to seek them out. One big reason for queer bookstores - that straight bookstores refused to carry those books - is gone.

Plus a whole bunch of other reasons. The one in Paris, tho, is still open, probably because of all the porn and coffee table books.

In all honestly, ADL is a rather mediocre bookstore by any standards. It's rather poorly stocked (very lacking in a lot of neo-queer and especially trans-related titles), has a very old school idea of what constitutes queer lit, the employees aren't exactly friendly and it has a not especially welcoming atmosphere. Moreover, there is a competing bookstore a few blocks away which has almost all queer employees and maybe even more queer-related titles than ADL and seems to be doing very well. So, yes, the indy book biz is in a tough state, but some are doing better than others.

james savik | April 5, 2011 2:14 PM

Even the big corporate book sellers aren't immune. Borders if reorganizing, Barnes & igNobels are talking buyout. It's a very scary climate for anyone in the business of letters.

It is a perfect storm of changing technologies, a depressed economy, a culture that reads less and less and printers and publishers that are under similar rising costs.

If you have a favorite bookseller, now would be an excellent time to support them.

Paige Listerud | April 5, 2011 3:19 PM

Since anything can be ordered online--a boon to LGBTQ still hiding in the closet--bookstores have to offer something more than just the physical product. Women and Children Books in Chicago struggles to keep pace in competition with mega stores but has long provided a center for community gathering over women's literature and non-fiction. A word to wise queer bookstore owners: don't just stock the shelves, provide a warm, supportive space for people to share their enthusiasm for LGBTQ books.

Unfortunately, the owners of this store thought that all they needed was the location on Castro Street. It could have been so much more, but it wasn't. Very limited stock, not enough of a community center, not a literary center for gay book clubs, gay authors, etc. Not at all like the great Giovanni's Room in Philadelphia's gayborhood, at 12th and Pine.

Book stores are going the way of music stores. The major chains will have to trim down or shut down, and the smaller ones will have to find a niche and cater to it, or fade away.

I see book stores similar to vinyl records. There will always be a demand for knowledgable employees and a physical product, but most communities/cities won't be able to support a dozen book stores, more like 1-3.

The correlation between Kindle & iTunes illustrated in this comment.

Anthony Carter | April 5, 2011 7:17 PM

This is truly an outrage. I remember the one in NYC. If I'd known, I could have done something. We have to keep each other informed...

I'm not surprised. I did a reading there last summer, and given their limited stock and general unfriendly attitude, as Gina said above, I figured news like this was coming down the pike.

Look around. Books, video and music stores having been dying off faster than the Dodo bird! Thanks to the internet, blogs like this one can exist. But that freedom of access to information that is the internet is a two edged blade that is clear cutting book stores, record stores and video stores. In the next 5 years (sooner) you won't find a Borders a Fye or a Blockbuster any place but on line (if they still exsit in the future).

...maybe now would be a good time to start up a online GLBT bookstore...