Saturday, September 27, 2014

Word is Out Women's Bookstore

Linda at Word is Out Women's Bookstore
Word is Out Women's Bookstore

Location: 2015 10th Street, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Opened: 1994

Closed: 2008

One of the many fine women's bookstores that we have lost over the years....

Word is Out won a Best Women's Bookstore Award from Denver Westword in 2006. The write-up tells us a little about the shop and the owners:

Owners and life partners Louise Knapp and Spider Kornblith have womanned Word Is Out for nearly twelve years, and at their place, you find obscure books on any famous or semi-famous woman, from H.D. to H. Clinton. The sunny shop also carries music, jewelry, T-shirts and posters by feminist artists, LBGT pride paraphernalia, and libby/pro-peace bumper stickers. There's even a personal shopper on staff to assist with those gift-giving dilemmas: Reggie, the very butch female toy poodle. Word to your mother.

But the bookstore lasted just another two years. Here's the goodbye letter:

Hello Everyone!
After 14 wonderful years of serving our Boulder area women's and LGBT communities, Word Is Out is closing shop.  Many, many heartfelt thanks to all of you for supporting us over the years!  It's been an incredible experience.  I've loved every minute of it, and I hope I've been able to contribute something to the community.

There are many factors that have gone into this decision, most of them directly affecting the store's continued financial sustainability.  In the years since 1994, we have seen the chain bookstores continue to aggressively compete with and undermine independents.  (I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating: we all need to keep supporting our wonderful array of surviving local independents.  If only large corporate chain bookstores survive, the result will be bland selections determined by buyers at corporate headquarters, who will ultimately decide what gets published at all.  If there are fewer independent stores to support books that deal with the controversial or the marginal, publishers will decline to take on manuscripts that the chains won't carry.)

Louise and Reggie, Word is Out
Women's Bookstore
The proliferation and convenience of on-line bookselling has made a huge impact; the cost of maintaining our physical store, especially rent, has gone up enormously; new technologies have made it easier for people to get information and to enjoy their leisure time, in ways that often bypass what a bookstore an offer; and our efforts to recoup some of our losses, by selling textbooks to CU students, has become a continuing and constant struggle with the CU campus bookstore.  All of these things have converged to make it increasingly difficult for us to keep going.

On the positive side, we also have seen many gains for the feminist and LGBT communities over the years we have been in business, and there are lots more activities and organizations serving Boulder.  Technology has been a force for progress as well, with many options for networking, socializing, and creating community.  So, we find that our presence as a resource and community gathering place has become less urgent and necessary.  As we close the bookstore, we can truly celebrate these successes, and acknowledge the hard work of so many to have made this a reality.  The work has made all of our lives better, and there are fewer of us who feel isolated and unconnected.

There are so many people to whom I'm grateful.  All our wonderful customers, faculty supporters, and everyone who has volunteered or worked at Word Is Out, starting with the shelf-builders in 1994, my web site host, those who helped with the move in 2003, with inventory every year, and with the day-to-day work.  I couldn't have done it without you all.  Finally, I'd like to thank Spider, my life partner, my sidekick, my bookstore cohort, and my best friend. 
My best to you all,
Louise Knapp

Spider and Louise


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