Cool Bookish Places

How a Small LGBTQ Bookstore Took the Internet By Storm

Ann Foster

Staff Writer

Ann can often be found walking very slowly through the aisles of bookstores, making sure that nothing new has come out she doesn’t know about yet, and then eagerly telling people about them. She writes about women from history at, and about books, film, TV, and feminism at various other sites. She prefers her books to include at least three excellent plot twists, which is why she usually reads the end first. Twitter: @annfosterwriter

On their website, Common Language Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, describe themselves as “Michigan’s Feminist/LGBT Bookstore.” Run entirely by a staff of three people and one dog, the small independent store has recently seen a dramatic uptick in online orders due to a single tumblr post.

Until this week, Common Language Bookstore’s social media posts highlighted their staff picks, photos of their lovely dog Duke and, like the post shared on April 11th, reminded their followers of the importance of supporting bricks and mortar bookstores. It was this post, which noted they hadn’t sold any books that day, which caught the eye of tumblr user dadrielle. A former resident of Ann Arbor and fan of the store, she shared Common Language’s post and kindly suggested that other users may want to consider placing online orders through this small shop.

And with that unpredictable sleight of hand that raises one post to epic status, other tumblr users took notice. Those who read the post were not just sharing and liking it on tumblr, they were moving from thought to action and contacting Common Language Bookstore to place orders.

On April 17, Common Language Bookstore saw a sudden increase in online orders, particularly from people living outside of Ann Arbor. They posted the following to their Facebook page:

On April 18th, with the tumblr post now officially going viral, Common Language Bookstore posted another update. They had gone from 28 online orders to more than 211, the number continuing to increase. In a heartfelt blog and social media post, the owners shared the effect of the tumblr post going viral on their operation. Not only was their three person/one-dog operation working hard to keep up with the amount of orders, they took care to express gratitude to those who shared the post as well as to those who placed orders.

And, wanting to share their good fortune with other businesses, Common Language Bookstore encouraged readers “lucky enough to live in one of the (very) few places which still has an indie LGBT bookstore, [to] please support it. If not, we can be your bookstore.”

One of the benefits of a bricks and mortar bookstore is the human touch, especially being able to gain and receive book recommendations from a fellow reader. With that in mind, Common Language Bookstore offers their suggestions to customers via their website—check out Bobby’s and Keith’s picks for some suggestions of great LGBTQ books.

Do you have a favourite local bookstore? Let us know in the comments!