March 8, 2017
Women’s History Month bookstore display turns around spines on male-authored books; online commentators lose spines entirely
by Ryan Harrington
Cleveland, Ohio, the Arcadia of the Middle-West and home to more professional sports glory than the rest of the nation combined, has just scored a point for independent bookstores — in the form of one shop’s Women’s History Month display.
Loganberry Books (established in 1994) has reorganized their 10,000-volume fiction room in such a way that the novels written by men have been flipped around, pages out, leaving the books written by women facing forward or spine out. “Truly, this is a metaphor of silencing the male voice,” Harriet Logan, the store’s owner, told Cleveland Scene’s Laura Morrison.
This articulates the display’s effect admirably in terms of speaking and silence, but the visual effect—a clear picture of the gender disparity in the canon—is what’s stunning. Eight members of Loganberry’s staff combed through the books for about two hours to make the simple, powerful, and classy protest-cum-celebration.
And while coverage of the display hasn’t been widespread, it was the subject of a write-up by Jillian Kay Melchior in the right-leaning Heat Street, in addition to that interview in Cleveland Scene. That is to say that it counts as “women doing something online,” or maybe just “women existing.” So you can imagine that the comments section, however small, got lively.
Here is a sampling (representative, I fear, of the general discourse in this country) of the comments left, apparently, without awareness that this display is entirely harmless, every month is Men’s History Month, and the entire world is rigged in favor of men. May they be a reminder to buy independent, fight for women’s lib, and read women’s lit.
“I can’t wait to silence all the female resumes that come across my desk this month”
“Insults customers. Make it difficult to find an item. Great business plan. This dumb broad is why so many women run businesses go belly up.”
“This is ridiculous. Sorry, but it is. Luckily there are lots of other book stores to shop at in the greater Cleveland area.”
“She just lost a customer doing that.”
“Cool, now I know where not to shop in Ohio. By the way, if a bookstore did this to female authors, I also would not shop there.”
“Forget gender gap. Show us a thigh gap.”
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.