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Common Language Bookstore, one of the last remaining LGBT and feminist-identified bookstores in both the United States and Canada, is hosting a fundraiser billed as “The Last Bookstore Standing.” The reception and silent auction will run from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, April 14 at the store.
Keith Orr, co-owner of the store, says, “Our good friend Susan Horowitz at Between The Lines likes to point out that there is the for-profit world, the nonprofit world and the unprofitable world. Bookstores have belonged to that last category for a while now. And for some reason, LGBT and feminist bookstores have been hit particularly hard. There are 13 feminist-identified bookstores and about 10 LGBT-identified bookstores left in the U.S. and Canada. A few of them — like ourselves — carry both identities, so between the two there are only about 18 left altogether.
“We have held two ‘Last Bookstore Standing’ fundraisers in the past. They have helped us make it this far. In fact, things had been looking up a little bit. We haven’t held one in two years. While we limp along, we are unable to make any investments which will help us survive into the future. We are dedicating this edition of our fundraiser to improving our technology infrastructure.”
The funds raised will go specifically towards:
– A new computer (the store’s computer was last replaced when the owners moved into the current space in January 2005)
– New/upgraded point-of-sale software
– Website development (the current website has a front-end designed on software from 2003)
Orr notes, “While it (the website) is dated, much worse is the backend with an ancient shopping cart system. Not only does it look dated, its functionality is limiting us. With the other upgrades in place we will be able to plug-in to a backend designed for independent booksellers which will allow us to sell nearly any book online, as well as many e-books.”
A big part of the event will be the Literary Silent Auction. Orr and co-owner and husband, Martin Contreras, have contacted many authors who have some sort of connection to the bookstore to be included in the items (and concepts) up for auction. Current items include theater tickets from local author and actor Roy Sexton; three character names to auction from Greg Herren and Jessie Chandler; some editing from David Pratt; and of course, books.
“Authors believe in the value of independent bookstores in general,” says Orr, “and Common Language in particular. They have stepped forward and donated in a big way. We are so grateful. Now you can help us prepare for a long and sustainable future. Please consider attending. If you can’t attend, consider buying a ticket in absentia.”
Tickets for the event are $35; the event will include cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and more. Tickets may be purchased at Common Language or online at http://gaybe.am/lbs. Common Language Bookstore is located at 317 Braun Ct., Ann Arbor. For more information, call 734-663-0036.