Gay Bookstore Death Watch: Indianapolis’ Out Word Bound


Indianapolis' only gay bookstore, Out Word Bound, will close after Christmas, its owners say:

"'It has been a good run,' owners Mary Byrne and Tammara Tracy wrote in an e-mail to customers Wednesday. For
more than a decade, the Downtown store has served as a center of gay
and lesbian intellectual life, with concerts and book groups meeting
there frequently."


  1. says

    This is so sad. We should all try to buy our books in LGBT bookstores instead of the big stores. LGBT bookstores are about so much more than books. We should do everything we can to keep the remaining ones alive.

  2. says

    we should all be buying books at private bookstores, period. private bookstores are all closing these days. i can’t imagine how difficult it must be to be a niche bookseller as this place is. as a book designer, i’m more than saddened by the downfall of publishing in general, and private bookstores specifically. i don’t know how they realistically compete though, when the big stores start selling even brand new bestsellers at a discount. it seems the bottom line is the bottom line is the bottom line. the books i buy are all bought from a privately owned bookstore in my town, but i can’t hold it against people for driving to a Barnes & Noble for cheaper books even though i won’t. i certainly don’t know the answer.

    on a [somewhat] related note, i’m also troubled recently by the ‘publish on demand’ books, as evidenced by Andrew Sullivan’s current View from my Window, or whatever it’s called. they don’t even seem to be designed, just plugged into preset templates. my books are the closest thing to children i’ll ever have, and if my name is on the copyright page, you can be sure that every single detail has been worked out to the nth degree. publish on demand is cheap but there is no art to it. i’m a dinosaur and the asteroid is fast approaching Earth.

  3. nickbilz says

    i am so terribly saddened by this news. I’m from Indianapolis and always made it point to buy books here. even when they didn’t have a book in stock that i wanted, and i knew i could just drive over to B&N or Borders and get it instantly, i would often order it thru them and wait the extra week or two. i also used to work with Tammara in her other capacity as a city planner back when i was employed with the City of Indianapolis, and can tell you she’s a marvelous woman. this is terrible news for the neighborhood as well, that section of East St was sort of a little Gay Sesame St with Out Word Bound as sort of the anchor of this block, followed by Henry’s Cafe to the north and Mary’s salon to the right, and Aesop’s Tables just down the street. i loved to spend a summer morning on the patio at Henry’s reading my latest purchase from OWB and watching people stroll by.

    i wonder if they could have held out just a little longer would they have been helped by the increase in foot & cycle traffic expected from the completion of The Cultural Trail next summer?

  4. david says

    This really is sad. I grew up in Indy, and about once a year have to go back. I always made a stop at OWB. I know my once a year dollars aren’t enough, but I will really miss being able to get away from the family and go there for some real family time.


  5. Graham says

    This has been happening in cities all over the country. Even LA lost its one gay bookstore a few months ago. LA and some other cities still have community centers, which is great. So maybe what needs to happen is for these bookstores to somehow become nonprofits, or operate under a nonprofit umbrella — like an extension of a community center. The reality is that nearly all independent bookstores, of any flavor, no longer can survive due to the triopoly of B&N, Borders (although Borders is in trouble) and Amazon. The LGBT community center in Tulsa, Oklahoma has a gift shop, including books; and the receptionist of the community center doubles as the cashier for the gift shop. Maybe that’s a viable model for other cities. The community centers in Tulsa, LA, NYC, San Francisco, and Chicago (and probably others I haven’t seen) are *wonderful* places, and serve a crucial cultural function that gay bookstores formerly served (e.g., readings, discussions, concerts, etc.). So I think there’s hope that these wonderful cultural and community-building functions formerly achieved by commercial gay bookstores are still possible…but not under a classic commercial/for-profit model.

  6. John in Boston says

    Our world (not just the gay community) has become remarkably fragmented over the past 20 years or so, and getting ever more so. Humans are more and more simply tuning out and into themselves and whatever narrow niche interests them. Peoples sense of commonality with the world around them is fading, and their sense of commonality with other people is narrowing.

  7. KFLO says

    As a young gay man in Indianapolis I once entered that book store and bought a bumper sticker to make myself feel proud. Sad to see it close.