Monday, December 7, 2009

Lambda Rising Bookstores to Close

From our friends at Shelf Awareness we note this story about the closing of Lambda Rising, founded in 1974 as one of the first LBGT bookstores in the country:

Sad news: Lambda Rising, the gay and lesbian bookstore with locations in Washington, D.C., and Rehoboth Beach, Del., will shut down in early January. The stores have started holiday sales and will hold liquidation sales after Christmas.

In a long statement, Deacon Maccubbin, who owns the store with his husband, Jim Bennett, put the closing in a positive light, saying that when he founded Lambda Rising in 1974, it was virtually impossible to find gay books in general bookstores or libraries. "We thought if we could show that there was a demand for our literature, that bookstores could be profitable selling it, we could encourage the writing and publishing of glbt books, and sooner or later other bookstores would put those books on their own shelves and there would be less need for a specifically gay and lesbian bookstore. Today 35 years later, nearly every general bookstore carries glbt books, often featuring them in special sections."

He added: "But the book market has been changing dramatically, the GLBT community has been making progress by leaps and bounds, and 35 years is enough time for any person to devote to any one thing. It's just time to move on."

The first Lambda Rising stocked 250 books in a 300-sq.-ft. room in a townhouse in Washington. In the beginning, the store was harassed and Maccubbin was unable to advertise in the Washington Post or the Yellow Pages, which would not run ads that used the words "gay" or "lesbian." Lambda Rising also hosted the first five Gay Pride Days in Washington before giving it to a nonprofit foundation. The event now draws more than 200,000 people a year. Besides the Rehoboth Beach store, Lambda also opened stores in Baltimore, Md., and Norfolk, Va.; purchased (and later sold) the Oscar Wilde Bookshop in New York City; began the Lambda Book Report; and founded the Lammy Awards, which are now run by the Lambda Literary Foundation.

Jim Bennett commented: "I spent 20 years working in Lambda Rising and it was a marvelous experience. The store has touched the lives of so many people--it was never just a bookstore, but always so much more. Every day I went to work there, I knew I was doing something that made a difference.
Farewell, Lambda Rising! You will be missed.


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