BY BTL Staff
ANN ARBOR –
Friends of Common Language Bookstore will hold the Third Book-A-Palooza Used book sale to benefit the bookstore. The fundraiser will take place beginning Friday, May 17 and run through Sunday, May 19, at 317 Braun Court in front of the bookstore, next to the aut BAR.
The first bookstore dedicated to the literature of the gay and lesbian community was Oscar Wilde Bookshop which opened in Greenwich Village in 1967. Less than two years later, the defining event of the modern gay liberation movement occurred a few blocks away, in front of the Stonewall bar. Throughout the modern LGBT civil rights movement bookstores have been at the center of the action, as repositories of information, and a center of organization.
At the same time, a new “out” culture and attitude emerged. An LGBT literary tradition blossomed, building on the early work of a few brave pre-Stonewall LGBT artists. LGBT bookstores were the means of dissemination of this new literary tradition. They brought the new literature to a public desperate for stories that reflected their lives, and often brought the authors and their reading public together.
“As people learned that they could come out, they needed safe spaces and information. Again, LGBT bookstores were there to assure anxious men and women that they were a part of a larger shared experience. Youth, especially, needed the safe space LGBT bookstores provided,” said Common Language owner Keith Orr.
He emphasized that nearly fifty years later the LGBT community still engages in political activism, still has a rich and varied literary tradition, and still needs safe spaces. In other words, LGBT bookstores remain relevant.
Unfortunately dozens, including the Oscar Wilde Bookshop, have closed over the last ten years. Bookstores have been closing because of an online marketplace which does not have the expense of a bricks and mortar store according to Orr.
However, that online marketplace cannot provide the political, cultural, and social underpinnings of the LGBT bookstore. Orr stresses that Common Language Bookstore is committed to continuing to serve these important needs.
In order to buck the trend of bookstore closings, Common Language has embarked on a series of fundraisers over the last five years, including raffles, used book sales, and a signature literary cocktail party and auction titled “The Last Bookstore Standing.”.These events have raised awareness in the local community, along with much-needed funds to keep the bookstore open.
Book-A-Palooza hours are May 17 from 5 p.m.- 10 p.m., May 18 from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., and May 19 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Used book donations are being accepted through Thursday night. Donations of fiction, gardening, travel, politics, and more will be gratefully accepted. (Please, no textbooks or magazines). Proceeds from the sale will help pay overhead expenses to keep the store open, as well as help defray the costs of replacing outdated equipment.
This year’s Book-A-Palooza will have two tents. The first tent will contain bargain used books of general interest. Hardcovers are $4, paperbacks are $2 on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is bargain day with all books at half price. The second tent contains LGBT classics. These books will be individually priced. Book donations have been generous and include many hard-to-find out-of-print classics of the LGBT literature. Book-A-Palooza is a great opportunity to acquire great books and support a community treasure.