Gay Bookstores Latest Casulaties of Economic Woes

LGBT bookstores around the country have been affected by the weak economy

More than four decades after it opened in New York City, the Oscar Wilde Bookshop announced that it would close its doors in March, the New York Times reported on Feb 3. The Greenwich Village institution is believed to be the oldest gay and lesbian bookstore in the country.

In an e-mail message to customers, Kim Brinster, the store’s fifth and current owner, cited the current economic crisis as the final straw in the unfolding saga of an independent bookstore during the age of heavyweight retailers, online sales and electronic media. “Unfortunately we do not have the resources to weather the current economic crisis and find it’s time to call it a day,” she said.

The late gay activist Craig L. Rodwell opened the Oscar Wilde Bookshop on Mercer Street in 1967. Over the years, it became a meeting place for the gay and lesbian community, as well as proof that a market existed for gay and lesbian literature. It eventually moved to Christopher Street.

Later in February, Instinct Magazine reported that A Different Light, the prominent Los Angeles gay and lesbian bookstore, would close sometime this spring after 30 years in business. Owner Bill Barker cited construction and commerce patterns in the West Hollywood neighborhood that challenged the store in the last decade.

Barker said that A Different Light would maintain its San Francisco location, and its online store.