Reactions to A Different Light Closing

This week we learned about the apparent closing of A Different Light bookstore in SF. ” According to The Bay Citizen “Neighborhood chatter is that doors will close for good this spring.”

The comments section of the piece includes reactions from Lammy Award winner, Michael Thomas Ford, who notes the closing was inevitable “given the impact online retailers have had on all brick-and-mortar booksellers and especially specialty bookstores.”

The fairly recent closing of Washington DC’s Lambda Rising early last year and the shuttering of Oscar Wilde Books in the West Village and A Different Light’s WeHo outlet 2009, prompted Joe of the blog JoeMyGod to ask, “What’s left?”

We asked our friends how they felt about the store’s closing including the store’s co-founder Richard Labonté.

Ed Hermance of Giovanni’s Room (which will now take the place as the oldest LGBT bookstore in America) released a statement about the importance of maintaining a physical presence.

“While I am saddened to see this final ADL store close, it has seemed inevitable for some time given the impact online retailers have had on all brick-and-mortar booksellers and especially specialty bookstores. The “gay and lesbian story” is the human story, and as long as there are gay and lesbian people we will have stories to tell and people who want to read them.”

— Michael Thomas Ford

“It’s a disappointment when an institution you helped create withers away, but I haven’t been involved with a different light since 2000, so I don’t really know what state it’s been in the past few years. It was a hopping place from 1987, when i became manager, through the late ’90s, a hub for ACT-UP activism, weekly readings, art shows, a reading series, a commitment to carrying ‘zines and cards and buttons from locals and an attempt to stock — in the pre-amazon days — everything in print by, for, and about queers. Memories…”
— Richard Labonté

“The closing of San Francisco’s A Different Light Bookstore is the most
recent casualty of the changing economic landscape but the loss for the LGBT community goes well beyond buying books. A Different Light has been a meeting place, a safe haven, and a resource. We will miss it.”
— Judith Markowitz

“When the first of the stores opened in LA it was a momentous event in the history of our literature.”
— Katherine V. Forrest

“The closing of A Different Light in San Francisco raises the question about the future of Giovanni’s Room. Giovanni’s Room, now the oldest LGBT bookstore in the country, continues because it provides an unparalleled selection of goods and services in the store and has expanded to provide the finest access to LGBT books and Google eBooks on the Internet.” …

… “There is no substitute for a physical store.”

… “There is a great danger that the written word in this country will be controlled by Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble.  Is it smart to put publishers, authors, and readers utterly at the mercy of these would-be monopolies?”
— Ed Hermance of Giovanni’s Room