By Jeremy Cornelius
In the midst of our precarious, unpredictable financial climate in the United States, businesses are all facing fickle times and now with the popular invention of Amazon.com’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook and Border’s Ereader, book sales are plummeting. 200 Borders book stores closed this year, and with corporations having to close their doors, imagine the threat to independent bookstores. Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, the United States’ most famous independent, was forced to, for the first time in the history of the company, lay of 31 of its employee.
Now all the Shop Around the Corners all over the the country are having to glance at their finances and consider the possibility of having to close the books and doors. The increasing economic problem for businesses becomes especially apparent when one’s own community has to deal with the possibility of seeing businesses all around them go under.
Just north of Beloit in Madison, Wisconsin, A Room of One’s Own with its decorative hunter green awning has recently been reevaluating their support and considering not renewing their lease for the upcoming year. Of course, this decision is not set, but store manager Sandi assures regular customers that they are not going down silently, without a battle.
The 36 year-old business has flourished in the community, offering a distinct feminist literary presence. Sandi, the only remaining of the five young student founders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is giving the opportunity for the community to prove its support to the store by starting a new awareness-raising campaign: buy five books over the next 365 days. Emails have been sent out to people on their mailing list, complete with a printable placard where one can pledge their devotion to this campaign. According to Sandi, around 200 have already been collected since she starting the campaign only a couple of weeks ago.
The store has maintained support from the Women’s and Gender Studies faculty at the university, but Sandi makes the distinction that while the store has ongoing support from the faculty, the administration isn’t as willing to assist the store. The UW-Madison administration encourages students to buy books online, instead of supporting local businesses. However, the store always keeps a section of the store for WGST textbooks open to students.
Since the store’s title is named after Virginia Woolf’s famous essay, Sandi must have her own favorite Woolf novel. When asked if she is an avid fan of Woolf’s work, Sandi replied, “I like her and read her in college.” Her favorite of Woolf’s novels is Mrs. Dalloway, and just as precise as Mrs. Dalloway is about organizing her party, Sandi is taking cautious steps in planning out the future of A Room of One’s Own.
In closing, she said, “I’m sure we’ve been a strong presence in Madison. We started as a feminist bookstore to stay. We feel sure that Madison wants us to stay, and not just Madison, but surrounding places too.”
A Room of One’s Own constantly has events throughout the year, including Shameless Hussies Book Club, the Gay Men’s Book Club, and local author readings. The store is a huge supporter of the LGBTQ community, as well as featuring a stellar non-sexist children’s section. If you care to join their new campaign or stop in and browse their fiction, nonfiction, poetry, feminist and queer theory or if you’re searching for a clever bumper sticker or button, they are located at 307 West Johnson Street in Madison and are open Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. If you would like your name on their pledge board for their new campaign, walk in and fill out a placard or feel free to call them at (608) 257-7888 and have them put your name on their board. Visit their website at http://www.roomofonesown.com for more information.