The Feminist Bookstore Movement

Lesbian Antiracism and Feminist Accountability

The Feminist Bookstore Movement

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 34 illustrations Published: April 2016

Author: Kristen Hogan

Activism, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, LGBTQ Studies

From the 1970s through the 1990s more than one hundred feminist bookstores built a transnational network that helped shape some of feminism's most complex conversations. Kristen Hogan traces the feminist bookstore movement's rise and eventual fall, restoring its radical work to public feminist memory. The bookwomen at the heart of this story—mostly lesbians and including women of color—measured their success not by profit, but by developing theories and practices of lesbian antiracism and feminist accountability. At bookstores like BookWoman in Austin, the Toronto Women’s Bookstore, and Old Wives’ Tales in San Francisco, and in the essential Feminist Bookstore News, bookwomen changed people’s lives and the world. In retelling their stories, Hogan not only shares the movement's tools with contemporary queer antiracist feminist activists and theorists, she gives us a vocabulary, strategy, and legacy for thinking through today's feminisms.


"An oft-forgotten chapter in the women's lib movement of the 1970s was the rise of independent, women-owned bookstores, many of which created safe spaces for conversations that spurred second-wave feminism. Hogan has written a history of those thought-leading small businesses and the lesbians and women of color behind them, in which she celebrates the power of the feminist printed word." — Ms.

"It’s difficult to write the history of women’s bookstores without romanticizing a complex world of books, ideas, feelings, and feminist community that many of us miss. Hogan describes the pleasures of these communities, as well as the anger and factionalism that their commitments provoked. A literary history that opens and closes with Hogan’s own experience working at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore, The Feminist Bookstore Movement leads us through the rise and fall of this network, which, at its peak, included 130 businesses in North America." — Claire Bond Potter, Chronicle Review

"Hogan gives us a more complicated narrative; she focuses on a broad base of women from different backgrounds working together as activists, rather than on a few commercially successful writers. It is a history from the bottom-up rather than a female-adjusted Great Man style of history. . . .Hogan’s story should make us think about how we can build the communities that will give us the next books that will change our lives." — Laura Tanenbaum, The New Republic

"With thought and care Kristen Hogan tells the movement’s history as a way to lay a foundation of accountability and antiracism for future generations of feminists." — WATER

"[A]n eminently readable text that traces the history of feminist bookstores from their rise in the 1970s through the 1990s. . . . This work will appeal to scholars and everyday readers who enjoy microhistories. Highly recommended. All levels/libraries." — M. Martinez, Choice

"In some ways, The Feminist Bookstore Movement is a classic Second Wave recovery project, casting a loving glance backward as it seeks to uncover a series of lost moments obscured by the financial fate (and fight) of feminist bookstores in the ’90s. But Hogan’s account also spills beyond generational borders." — Stephanie Young, Los Angeles Review of Books

"The Feminist Bookstore Movement offers more than a chronicle of the rise and fall of feminist bookstores from 1970 to 2003. Drawing from archival documents, interviews, and scholarship, Hogan delineates the infrastructure that housed a lesbian, antiracist, anticapitalist, community-oriented culture, and she textures her account with thick descriptions of lived experience." — Ellen Messer-Davidow, American Historical Review

"Hogan's richly researched text is resplendent with photos that commemorate the 1970s-1980s era of feminism....Indeed, the engaging narrative prompted winsome memories of my brief, mid-1980s stint as an employee at Womanbooks in New York City while in journalism school. The passage of three decades has not dimmed my affection for the colourful posters, shelves of dazzling books and smiling co-workers that greeted me when I began my shift. I'm honoured to have been a part of the tradition that Kristen Hogan recounts, to sublime effect, in her outstanding contribution to lesbian and feminist letters." — Evelyn C. White, Herizons

"The Feminist Bookstore Movement is an essential addition to feminist studies, especially for those in the discipline interested in the influence of print on the movement. So much of feminism has been articulated through books and circulated by feminist bookstores. By documenting the rise and fall of the feminist bookstore movement, Hogan has done a great service to both the history and the future of feminism."   — Nicole M. Rizzuto, Gender Forum

"Carefully researched and highly engaging. . . . The Feminist Bookstore Movement is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of feminist writing and publishing, as well as anyone seeking to understand how feminist alternative economies and communities took shape and survived in the late twentieth century."

— Kate Eichhorn, Journal of American History

"A vital, necessary book. . . An informed, critical reading of a still-recent feminism. . . ."
  — Bonnie J. Morris, Signs

"This is a valuable volume that illuminates the understudied feminist bookstore phenomenon, using multiple sources to introduce readers to the inner workings of both individual bookstores and the field as a whole. It is further enlivened by Hogan’s personal reflections on the research process and her life experiences."
  — Kathleen Liddle, International Feminist Journal of Politics

“A radical contribution to contemporary feminist dialogue. . . . This book will be of potential relevance to feminist, queer and antiracist readers both within and beyond the North American context.” — Chiara Xausa, Women's Studies International Forum

"A fascinating account of how women's bookstores contributed to the antiracist feminist movement and of Kristen Hogan's personal journey as a bookwoman."  — Lisa C. Moore, Publisher, RedBone Press

"Using archival research, interviews, and personal experience, Kristen Hogan offers an insightful, loving history of feminist bookwomen’s vital contributions to social-justice work and literary traditions: their literary advocacy, activism, and transformation; complex lesbian antiracist feminisms; multicultural coalition-building; innovative relational reading practices; and impact on transnational feminisms and the book industry. Blending historical recovery with forward-looking calls to action, The Feminist Bookstore Movement should be required reading for any feminist who appreciates a good book."  — AnaLouise Keating, author of Transformation Now!: Toward a Post-Oppositional Politics of Change


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Kristen Hogan, who worked at BookWoman in Austin and at the Toronto Women's Bookstore, is Education Program Coordinator for the University of Texas Gender and Sexuality Center at the University of Texas, Austin.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix

Preface. Reading the Map of Our Bodies  xiii

1. Dykes with a Vision 1970–1976  1

2. Revolutionaries in a Capitalist System 1976–1980  33

3. Accountable to Each Other  1980–1983  69

4. The Feminist Shelf, A Transnational Project  1984–1993  107

5. Economics and Antiracist Alliances  1993–2003  145

Epilogue. Feminist Remembering  179

Notes  195

Bibliography  241

Index  261
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

2016 Lambda Literary Award Finalist

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6129-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6110-7
Publicity material