Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Whether it's a specialty store or one for the general readership, I still nurse a heavy heart when I hear of an independent bookstore closing. The latest victim in my neck of the woods is the Norfolk, VA Lambda Rising, which will close forever at the end of the month. This will be the third or fourth business in the Ghent area to close in as many months - one of the other shops was Broad Street Books, which had moved from Portsmouth to be closer to the rising interest in the Ghent district. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to keep either shop in business.
What makes this news especially sad is that Lambda Rising was the only GLBT bookstore on the southside of Hampton Roads - it may have been the only one in the metropolitan area, I can't be sure. True, the chains do sell books of GLBT interest, but a general bookstore can only hold so much to appease one type of readership. With independent stores - be they gay/lesbian, romance, or mystery - the options are wider for the readership who wants the products.
Of course, it's difficult to ignore the factors that contribute to the demise of such places. When I lived in Atlanta, there used to be this wonderful, huge store called Oxford Books. It was about the size of a B&N but it more resembled the library of an eccentric the way it was setup. Spiral staircases, separate rooms for specific genres...and the signings! Big names. Rita Mae Brown, Sue Grafton, Dick Francis, Colin Powell, Anne Rice! The line looped three times over to see Anne sign Servant of the Bones. By comparison, the B&N across the way held no such events, but in the end they could provide the deep discounts the Oxford could not. I imagine the B&N is still there.
Lambda Rising graciously hosted a number of manloveromance members during EPICon, and served the community well over the last decade. Here's hoping one day the climate will change and become friendly to independent sellers once again.