Katie Carter (left) and Amber Rowland help bring a community center focus to ‘In Other Words,’ the sole-surviving feminist nonprofit bookstore in the country, located on Northeast Killingsworth Street and Williams Avenue.
Photo by Cari Hachmann
Nonprofit bookstore adopts survival plan
In Other Words, the only nonprofit of 30 feminist bookstores in the country, is like roaming around the room of a smart big sister you never had.
Seventeen years ago, the volunteer-run organization opened on Hawthorne with the mission of being more than just your everyday bookstore.
Unique to the sort, the community organization currently operates in a humble brick building on the corner of Northeast Killingsworth Street and Williams Avenue, where in addition to stocked shelves of feminist and radical literature, a staff striving to support, enrich, and empower women, hosts visions of art on the walls, locally-made crafts, and community-inspired events on a wooden mini-stage.
Within the last year, In Other Words has planned to expand into a full-fledged community center; including a free lending library, an archive of historical feminist texts, free educational programming, and a free resource center with a vast range of materials.
“We are a community-driven space, driven by what the people want” says In Other Words Program Director Katie Carter. “It is integral to our mission to have as many accessible books to people as possible, and what better way than a library.”
Yet, like many small, independent businesses who boast bigger ideals than profit, In Other Words is facing the harsh reality of online conglomerate competition.
Let’s face it, “we can’t sell our books for a penny,” said Carter, in reference to online companies like Amazon who have recently come to dominate the commerce of books.
Last April, federal law changes altered the text-book selling industry allowing college students cheaper access to textbooks. Though the small nonprofit is pleased for the struggling college students, the legislation effectively wiped out the small non-profit’s main source of income, textbook sales.
In other words, the bookstore has slipped into a serious financial bind in what could have been their most exciting, project-filled winter. With a sense of urgency, the bookstore is confident that they can replace lost textbook sales through grants and individual donations.
Last month at their 17th birthday party, In Other Words raised over $4,000 in a single night. However, in order to keep doors open through the winter and overcome increased operating costs of the expansion, In Other Words seeks community donors and more monthly sustainers.
As a holiday gift, In Other Words invites community members to join their sustainer feminist and become donation birds, where a monthly tax-deductible donation will earn you a proud position in their display as a swallow, warbler, hummingbird, finch, peacock or owl.
Whichever feathery friend you choose to contribute, everyone receives discounts toward purchases and more importantly helps to ensure that In Other Words can continue to nurture and inspire future generations.
Supporters are urged to help keep In Other Words around and donate through its website.