Demise of gay bookstores
There was a remedy. A year before, Craig Rodwell had opened his Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore in Greenwich Village. In earlier decades there had been a class of sleazy bookstores selling semicontraband items, sometimes brought out from under the counter, but nothing like Oscar Wilde, with its well-stocked shelves and engaging proprietor.
Alas, Craig died several years ago, after having sold the store. The store itself closed last year. For a while, it was owned by the more prosperous DC bookstore, Lambda Rising, which tried valiantly to maintain Rodwell's business, the first gay bookstore in the history of the world. But the effort at historic preservation failed. In fact Lambda Rising itself closed last year.
So have most others. Glad Day struggles on in Boston, helped by subsidies from the owner, who benefits from a legacy. Some gay bookstores seem to survive in Canada and Europe--for how long it is hard to say.
At first sight it seems that the problem is competition by the big chains, Barnes and Noble; and Borders in particular, which now do have gay sections and are more convenient, sometimes with better prices. Big fish eat little fish. Bu then they are eaten in turn. Amazon, where I must admit I am a devoted customer, devours all. The flagship Barnes and Noble store near Lincoln Center is now a melancholy ruin, soon to close.
As for the gay stores, maybe (as Deacon Maccubbin of Lambda Rising suggests) they have served their purpose. From 1967 to the early years of the twenty-first century they were needed. Not any more it seems.
I confess that I am addicted to books. We bibliophiles seem to be a decreasing tribe, but at least we are still around.