Amazon Bookstore Cooperative for sale

February 20th, 2008 | Uncategorized


Amazon Bookstore in Minneapolis, the oldest feminist bookstore in the country–and the model for Madwimmin Books in DTWOF–is for sale. Barb Weiser, the general manager who’s worked at the store for the past twenty-one years and should be awarded a congressional medal of honor, is moving on. None of the staff is in a position to take over. Here’s a letter Barb sent out. I hope it’s okay to post it here, I found it on a message board called motheringdotcommune.

Dear Amazon friends,

I want to let you all know that I have decided to leave the bookstore. I have worked at Amazon for over twenty years and have come to know many of you and cherish the connections I have made here. But it is time for a change in my life, and I want to move in different directions. I had hoped that the younger staff currently working at the store would be able to carry it on, but because of the financial condition of the store, that is not a possibility.

So we have decided to sell Amazon Bookstore. We are hoping to find a buyer/buyers within the next few months.

Amazon Bookstore has been a vital part of the Twin Cities feminist and GLBT community for over 37 years. In recent years, Amazon has also functioned as a neighborhood bookstore, providing a focal point for literary and progressive books and events. We are hoping that there will be an individual or a group of individuals that want to carry on the vision of the store or recreate it into a vision of their own.

Please email me at the store, for a copy of our sale proposal and with any questions you might have.

It has been a great privilege to have worked at Amazon Bookstore for so long, and I feel very grateful to all of you for the support you have shown the store over the years. I hope in the upcoming months that I get to see many of you to express my gratitude personally.

Barb Wieser

General Manager

Amazon Bookstore Cooperative

38 Responses to “Amazon Bookstore Cooperative for sale”

  1. Bear says:

    I just gave a reading there last night, and met Barb (& the store) for the first time. All the attendees were talking about how they wished they had buckets of money, so they could buy it. I hope they’re able to stay open…

  2. Debs says:

    Wait, if it’s a cooperative, how does it have one owner? Cooperatives generally are, well, cooperatively owned. Perhaps the community there could make it a true cooperative and buy it together? Offer modest membership discounts on books for member/owners?

  3. lulu says:

    You drew the dog with its gait all out of whack. When you walk, your right hand goes back as your right leg goes forward; thus left leg is with right hand and left hand is with right leg. Same with dogs. Right front paw with left back paw etc.

    How much is that bookstore? I know someone bookish and rich.

  4. Janet Hurley says:

    Wow, that is sad news. I wonder if there could be an appeal to feminists around the country to buy a stake (share) in the business — or is it also that the current staff cannot otherwise carry on.

  5. megan says:

    Hey everyone, this is Megan from Amazon. I just wanted to pass along a second email we sent out after we realized this one from Barb inadvertently made it sound like we’re closing (and we’re not!!). So, here is the text from that:

    Hello friends,

    As a result of Barb’s recent announcement that she is leaving the store, we have received quite a few inquiries about whether the store is closing. We want you to know that Amazon Bookstore is not closing. In fact, we are doing everything in our power to keep our doors open. What this means, right now, is transition. We are trying to sell the store and are pretty optimistic about the prospect of this happening. This transition is likely to take several months during which we intend to stay open and fully functional. Our shelves are still well-stocked and we continue to be more than happy to take your orders.

    We look forward to seeing you,

    Amazon Bookstore Cooperative

    4755 Chicago Ave S

    Minneapolis, MN 55407


  6. liza CowaW says:

    I’m so glad that Amazon is not closing. I remember doing business with Amazon when I sold White Mare feminist/Lesbian buttons in the early 1970’s. When the other Amazon took over the bookaverse I was in shock. I can only imagine what it must have been like for the women of the real Amazon.

    I mean, seriously, can you believe that they took the name amazon away from women. The mind boggles.

  7. liza Cowan says:

    oops.. Thats not CowaW, but Cowan.

  8. Quatre says:

    …looks more like the dog is trotting rather than walking. And who knows, maybe it is stepping over something icky on the sidewalk, has a limp, just stopped or is just about to jump or run, etc. =) The panel has some nice detail in it, too…the shading, the little tree leaves, the drapes in the shop in the corner.

    My best wishes to Amazon Bookstore! Change can be sad and hard, but it works out. Good luck!

  9. Ginjoint says:

    Aw, I hope this works out. How many feminist bookstores are left in the country? I bet we could count them on one hand.

    Also, for Lulu: just FYI, and you probably know this already, but cats don’t share a dog’s gait. Instead, they move first both legs on one side, then the other. Only a few mammals stroll this way. Also, a cat’s rear foot will land in the spot vacated by the front foot.

  10. Ginjoint says:

    Yeah, Liza, I always wondered how the evil Amazon got away with that. And…why?

  11. Anon says:

    Amazon Bookstore and reached an out of court settlement over the name years ago. So the Bookstore was remibursed in one way or another, and allowed to continue using the name through some type of licensing arrangement.

    The cooperative question is an interesting one. How is it a co-op if one person leaving means it needs to be sold?

  12. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Oh God, I hope they don’t close. That would break my heart. One of my fondest memories of the place is seeing Alison read there in the summer of 2006, in their packed basement! It was my birthday, too- what a great present.
    I take this opportunity to urge fellow Minneapolitans (yeah, okay, and you shmucks in St.Paul too. JK!) to shop local for your books- the killer B’s (Bounders and Bunns n’ Noodle) must not win!!!

    I also have a fond memory from when I was seventeen years old and Amazon was still located near Loring Park, of my Dad being oh-so-proud of himself for buying me an Indigo Girls CD from the place. XD

  13. shadocat says:

    If only I had lottery winnings to invest! Seriously, I have shopped over the phone and online at the store for may years, but have never had the actual opportunity to visit the place. I hope it continues so someday I’ll have the chance…

  14. paris says:

    lulu: if the woman is jogging, the dog could be loping, in which case it’s a natural stepping sequence as it is about to shift entirely onto the front right foot.


  15. Em says:

    I’m really glad it’s not closing. I got to visit the place when I came up to the twin cities over the summer, and lordy do I wish I had someplace like it in my neck of the woods.

  16. priorities says:

    Focusing mental powers on its staying open. I’ve only been a customer since I figured out part of what was “wrong” with me and started actually *dating* women, 2001… you know, go get therapized at Chrysalis, walk over to Amazon afterwards and spend money ’til you feel better, catch bus home, read read read. I like to think it helped.

  17. iara says:

    So here is the proof:

    Madwimmen = good
    Medusa = evil

    But we also have that Madwimmen=Amazon and that Medusa=Amazon, from which it follows that:

    good=evil —-QED

    Watch out for the twisted, queer logic of DTWOF!

  18. Grisha says:

    I take it this Amazon predates the other one, and thus is immune from legal harassment claiming trademark infringement.

  19. Jaibe says:

    lulu — look back at the original posting for an email address, the “sale proposal” should include a price!

  20. judybusy says:

    I, of course, really hope the store remains open! I live just blocks away and always go there when I buy gifts or the odd book for myself. The staff are always so helpful, especially when I special order stuff, which is most of the time….As when,for some reason, “500 Portuguese Verbs” isn’t in stock! 😉 So I go to them because as the sign in the window says, “We can order ANY book!” And they can.

    I loved priorities’ story…and now we can go across to the lesbian-owned Pumphouse ice cream place for incredible ice cream! Therapy, feminist bookstore, and ice cream, all in the same neighborhood! (And, come to think of it, there is the hardware store right next to the Pumphouse. Is this lesbosian heaven or what?)

  21. Rosa says:

    …and for some reason a fencing club. I love all the mini-downtowns in Minneapolis, but that one might be the best.

    Nothing like sitting outside the Pumphouse trying to nurse a baby, eat ice cream, and read Sarah Waters’ latest without dripping on it.

    I hope if they don’t find a single buyer they sell community shares like North Country did…though maybe not, since it didn’t keep NCC going either 🙁

  22. Lindsay Kearns says:

    Hi All,

    As part of my job at the BC Institute for Co-operative Studies (, I produce an educational radio show about co-ops called Each For All: The Co-operative Connection. Just this past week, as part of our episode about feminism and co-ops, I had the pleasure of interviewing Barb Wieser about Amazon Bookstore Co-operative. She doesn’t give many details about their plans to sell, but does mention it and also gives a good background on the store itself. If you’re keen to listen, follow the link below to the podcast (the interview with Barb is the first one and only 15 minutes long).

    Take care,

  23. LizGig says:

    Can someone post more information about the community shares that NCC sold? I’m interested in alternative (non-bank-based) investment for community development.


  24. Sylvie says:

    Hi, Lulu,

    Unless the dog is pacing, which does happen – sometimes because the dog is young and hasn’t sorted out the most efficient movement, sometimes due to back injury or pain, sometimes because they are tired.

    So….while I agreee that the gait shown here is not ideal or pretty, it’s not unknown at all.

    Sylvie in Olympia
    Raising and watching dogs for some years now 😉

  25. kara says:

    god, i remember how sad and awful and horrid it was when boston’s femninist bookstore- new words- shut and just became an occasionally open “reading room”. it meant, instead of anyone off the street wandering in and getting an immersion experience in feminist bookstore culture, you had to be in a clique that was In The Know- you had to have somehow found the books the authors they invited to their tiny little backroom space were coming to talk about without the aid of this public forum or a hundred thousand dollar education from one of teh local ivy leagues, it was sad, sad, sad.

    i really hope the REAL Amazon books stays open and true!

    note on cooperatives- there are hierarchic and non-heirarchic cooperatives. there are floating hierarchies and more structured hierarchies within cooperatives. the anarchist ideal of cooperatives as being entirely consensus based and non-hierarchic is- i believe- a frightened reaction to the extreemely hierarchic forms of collectivism in the communist movements on the mid-to-late twentieth century. as well as a silly youthful bucking of parental authority as played out on the world stage.

  26. Alex the Bold says:

    I wonder, in the years to come, will we have annual memorial services for all the independent bookstores that died? What does is say about the American culture — let alone the American Century — that everything iconoclastic and independent is being pulped by the Great God Progress.

    I think of all the independent bookstores I have had so much enjoyment wandering through: Raven Used Books in Northampton (I have about 8 of their T-shirts), the Book Mill in Montague, Mass., Macawber Books in Princeton (Glen Echo Books is still just down the street on Nassau St.).

    It actually gives me pain to think of all the wonderful shelves, gone from the world.

    I’ve never gone into an independent bookstore and been disappointed; I’ve never walked into a Wal*Mart and felt uplifted.

    I never thought the tin-foil-hat types were right. But we really are heading for some ugly, ugly, fascist times.

  27. Boricua says:


    while I was also saddened by the closing of New Words…which did play a huge role in my adolescence – I have tremendous appreciation for what the co-operative has done to sustain and re-form the enterprise.

    The most exciting thing to me about the new New Words…is their commitment to promoting women’s literacies.

    They support WE LEARN – a grass roots organization that promotes the writing and reading of all women, but particularly low-income basic writing students and English Language learners – which is some completely right on work for a feminist collective called “New Words” to invest in…and this is just one of the interesting projects that new words is contributing to – way better than just giving up the ghost, because they couldn’t make a small bookstore work anymore.

    And…I have a GED, which I’m proud of, but I certainly can’t be accused of being part of an “in the know” crowd if “in the know” means having been a part of some prestigious university – or any university.

    I’d be interested in hearing more about your own, or other people’s, experiences with their transition – but maybe this isn’t the space for it.

    the web site for WE LEARN:

    the web site (and link to the Blog of) the
    Center for New Words

  28. Boricua says:

    ok, forgive me, but I’m going to lay this link on you also:

    “Women and Literacy: Moving to Power and Participation”

    …this is an issue of Women’s Studies Quarterly that was edited by, and includes many contributions from the women of WE
    LEARN…and that the Center for New Words helped promote…which is why I’ve heard of “Women’s Studies Quarterly”…much as why they were why I heard of “This Bridge Called My Back”, and June Jordan, and Kate Rushin and…you know.

  29. Saskia says:

    I live in Saint Paul and love having Amazon close by, but I can’t resist giving a shout-out to my favorite feminist bookstore of all time: A Room of One’s Own, in Madison, WI. And a big thanks to all of the people who work in indie bookstores… you’re the best.

  30. Amazon 2.0 says:

    I just want to clarify that the reason the current staff can’t take over at Amazon for now is that the two of us who are committed to sticking around are both 20-somethings who financially can’t take responsibility for the business – it’s not because we don’t want to, it’s simply because there are debts we can’t reasonably take on. Please know that we are full of hope that a buyer will be motivated to work with us to continue to provide essential resources to all of you who know and love us!

  31. Lily says:

    Does Alison mind the critiques of her drawing? Because while I recognize that artists must thrive on critiques, it seems shockingly rude to me to so bluntly offer up such criticisms on her blog! Maybe I am just being old-fashioned again, though. I must admit, also, that while I am also an artist I don’t “read” her drawings with an eye towards critique, but rather with appreciation and pleasure. I know I couldn’t keep up with her cartooning!

  32. Feminista says:

    Boricua–Gracias for the links. I spent 2 hours reading the WE LEARN website. The students’ stories and their comments in the Reading Circles were fascinating.

    Here in Portland,OR,we still have our independent feminist bookstore,In Other Words. IOW was the successor to A Woman’s Place Bookstore,which started in the 70s. What with Powell’s and our excellent library system,there’s no reason to go to Bounders or Bunns and Noodles.

  33. Boricua says:

    Saludos comadre!

    It is a pleasure to know that someone checked those fine women out. Your post inspired me to take another look at the Reading Circles info – and I noticed that Amazon Bookstore was one of the two first sponsors of that project.

    In the early days, women’s bookstores were a provocation, and a radical space to enter…it sounds like some of them still are, while also serving the role of being a comfortable space for a decidedly more comfortable set of people – literate feminists.

    One of the things I love about WE LEARN, is that it is pushing right along with the feminist literacy movement that we inherited from the 70s – more radical literacy, more work to reach out and bring the margin to the center…where people of color are not a rare find at all, and where people who’ve had little educational opportunity are also numerous…and we all have things to say, and write, and read, and draw…and making room for that is making room for another radical, provocative, uncomfortable space that feminism needs as its lifeblood

    siempre en la lucha

  34. K.B. says:

    Lily: you bring up an interesting issue. Has it been discussed on this blog before?

    Obviously, this blog is a much better venue for discussing dtwof than we had before. (Remember the planet out bulletin board?)

    On the other hand, now it’s become impolite to actually criticize the strip.

  35. a little catch and release says:

    K.B., would you feel comfortable criticizing the strip to the author’s face? Depends on your own feelings regarding what’s appropriate or polite. AB herself may or may not see any of what we all say here, and may or may not care what we say. In the past, re: the purpose of her blog, she has said, and I quote with utmost care, “whatever”.

    The DTWOF Livejournal community used to be a good place to discuss the strip, and could be again.

  36. erika says:

    I am sometimes working as a volunteer in the newly (one and a half year) opened feminist/lbgtq bookstore in stockholm, sweden and I do hope the bookstore youre writing about wont have to close. Madwimmin has really been a source of identification and inspiration for me when working for this bookstore in stockholm. and its so cool to read about amazon bookstore and madwimmin and imagine all these years, and to hope that our store will have that many years of bookselling, activism (and flirting)to come.

  37. Gil in Mexico City says:

    Don´t mean to pile it on, but if all of us supported these small mom & mom stores they would not be doing badly. Allison has done a brilliant job at exposing the fact that our constant desire for new/cheap goods damages local economies. Perhaps at least we, as her enlightened readers, have stopped buying at Walmart (yes, they´re driving wages down in Mexico too!) et al?

  38. Terri says:

    Yes! You can order books at the same way you would other online stores. Just put what you’re looking for in that little search box and they will ship it to you, wherever you live.

    There are alternatives to feeling sad about the situation Amazon is in. Just change where you are buying the books you already buy! In 1993, there were 124 women’s bookstores across the country, and now there are less than 15. We can stop this erosion!