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Chapter 1 documents feminist bookstore beginnings as movement sites in major and dispersed cities: Oakland, New York, Toronto, Cambridge (Massachusetts), Austin, and San Francisco. Bookwomen founded bookstores with a vision that lesbian and feminist books together in one place could change people’s lives, how we read each other’s histories, and the future of our movements. The specific identity of each bookstore influenced the sustained transnational conversation bookwomen shared for more than three decades. As bookwomen staked out their values in founding documents, they defined their bookstores in relationship to feminist issues including collectivity, economic justice, racial justice, allyship, socioeconomic class, and academic feminisms. The resulting variety of ethical frameworks illustrates the differences between the cities as well as their bookstores and suggests how the collective force of the bookwomen put these differences in conversation to generate movement, learning, and new feminist futures.

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