In the mid-1990s, there were approximately 120 feminist bookstores in the U.S. and several in Canada. A decade later, that number plummeted to less than 70.
There are only 13 self-described feminist bookstores still in existence today, but the remaining are stalwarts, having outlasted economic downturns, Amazon and the e-book revolution. Each bookstore hosts numerous events throughout the year, often garnering strong support from their communities, and we’ve listed them below.
Established in 1973, Antigone Books is the oldest feminist bookstore in the country. Owners Trudy Mills and Kate Randall sell general fiction, regional titles, children’s books and titles about border patrol issues.
Selma Miriam and Noel Furie co-own Bloodroot, a vegetarian restaurant and bookstore. Though the bookstore is small, it offers books authored by and about women, multicultural books and books about animal rights.
Kathryn Welsh founded Bluestockings, a collectively owned and volunteer-run bookstore and cafe, in 1999. The bookstore carries over 6,000 titles on politics, feminist theory, queer theory and liberation/resistance in addition to politically-minded children’s books.
BookWoman opened in December 1974 and will celebrate its 40th anniversary at the end of this year. Current owner Susan Post, who started out as a volunteer, has been with the bookstore since its inception. BookWoman carries a vast selection of poetry, children’s books, young adult fiction and multicultural books.
Sara Luce Look and Angela Gabriel co-own Charis Books and More, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary in November. The bookstore’s bestsellers include a mix of literary fiction, popular lesbian fiction, queer cultural studies, global/feminist politics, spirituality and multicultural children’s books.
Keith Orr and Martin Contreras co-own this feminist and LGBTQ bookstore, which opened its doors in 1991. Common Language’s biggest sellers include lesbian fiction, gay studies, trans studies, women’s studies and children’s books, particularly those children’s books that spread a message of diversity.
In Other Words was founded in 1993 by Johanna Brenner, Kathryn Tetrick and Catherine Sameh. It is a non-profit, volunteer-run, feminist community center with a mission to inspire and cultivate feminist communities and nurture social justice. Its bookstore serves as a lending library and a venue for feminist events. (It’s also where the feminist bookstore sketches are filmed for the TV show Portlandia.)
Margaret Phillips is the owner of Northern Woman’s Bookstore, the only feminist bookstore in Canada. Its selection includes a variety of genres, from LGBT fiction and nonfiction to biography, self-help, poetry and feminist theory.
Owned by Gina Mercurio (above), People Called Women opened in 1993. The bookstore specializes in multicultural children’s books, non-fiction, memoirs, lesbian fiction and romance in addition to mainstream books.
Owned by Sandy Torkildson, A Room of One’s Own offers new and used books in conjunction with Avol’s Bookstore. The store specializes in women’s studies and LGBT interests, but it also offers a broad selection of contemporary and classic titles as well as children’s books.
Wild Iris Books, which opened its doors in 1992, is co-owned by Cheryl Krauth and Lylly Rodriguez. In addition to offering thousands of new and used titles, including feminist classics, feminist science fiction and queer theory, Wild Iris sells videos, hand-beaded jewelry, artisanal soaps and Fair Trade coffees.
Established in 1979, Women and Children First was listed for sale by owners Linda Bubon and Ann Christopherson last October. (They are currently in negotiations with a buyer and anticipate a seamless transition.) Twenty percent of its sales are children’s books, while other popular books include non-fiction titles in politics, race relations, histories of marginalized populations, science, education and parenting. The bookstore also has a large LGBT section as well as a wide selection of cookbooks and art books.
Womencrafts, which opened its doors on the tip of Cape Cod in 1976, is owned by Kathryn Livelli. It stocks 800 to 1,000 titles, including lesbian fiction, poetry, self-help, parenting, LGBT issues, spirituality, New York Times bestsellers and children’s books. The store also sells fine jewelry, pottery and porcelain made exclusively by female artists.
*Denotes stores that also sell books through their websites.