Amazon Bookstore Cooperative

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Amazon Bookstore Cooperative
TypeWorker cooperative
FounderRosina Richter Christy
Julie Morse Quist
Area served
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Amazon Bookstore Cooperative was a feminist bookstore located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that operated from 1970 to 2012. It was the first lesbian/feminist bookstore in the U.S.[1] The shop was named after the Amazons, a mythological tribe of fierce and independent women. In 1994 was founded and within a year, problems started for Amazon Bookstore. Terms of a lawsuit by Amazon bookstore resulted in a small settlement, and a requirement that Amazon Bookstore go by the name 'Amazon Bookstore Collective' to reduce confusion with[2]

Early years[edit]

In 1970 when Amazon was founded by Rosina Richter Christy and Julie Morse Quist, it was far from a full-fledged bookstore. The books were kept in the front room of the women's collective they lived in and books were only available from 3 to 6 PM or by special arrangement.[3][4][5] This arrangement lasted for about two years before the book store moved to Minneapolis' Lesbian Resource Center and then migrated through a series of different storefront addresses. Working conditions were sometimes difficult and included an unsafe neighborhood and a building with no heat where pipes froze and people had to wear gloves inside the store.[4][5]


In 1999, the cooperative sued for trademark infringement. After sometimes acrimonious legal proceedings, the case was settled in November of that year, with Amazon Bookstore assigning its common law rights in the Amazon name to; and giving a license back to Amazon Bookstore Cooperative for use of the Amazon name.[6][7]

True Colors[edit]

The store in 2012 with a "going out of business" sign in the window.

The business announced that they were closing down at the end of June 2008, and buyers came forth to carry on the store as an independent bookstore. Ruta Skujins, with the help of her partner, Joann Bell, decided to take over the store. Transfer of the ownership of the store happened at the end of June, according to an e-mail sent by the store to customers on June 17.

In November 2008 it was announced that the store changed ownership and as a result, the Amazon name could not be used by the new owner as it was owned by The new owner of the bookstore, Ruta Skujins, changed the name of the store to True Colors Bookstore, and both names were in use during the transition period.[8] The bookstore began experiencing financial difficulties in late 2011, with the store closing in February 2012 due to this.[9][10][11]

Influence and significance[edit]

Amazon became "the oldest independent feminist bookstore in North America"[12] and was probably "the oldest in the English speaking world".[4] It had an impact that extended both beyond its immediate area and beyond the United States.[13]

It also had a presence in popular culture. Cartoonist and graphic novelist Alison Bechdel was inspired to create the fictional Madwimmin Books in Dykes to Watch Out For based on experiences at the store.[14]


  1. ^ Pulley, Anna (2012-08-10). "10 Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Lesbians". Retrieved on 2013-08-27.
  2. ^ Kirch, Claire (October 2003). "The Struggle Continues". Publishers Weekly. Vol. 250, no. 41. p. 20. Retrieved December 25, 2019.
  3. ^ Divine, Anda (October 10, 1990). "Amazon celebrates 20 years". Minnesota Women's Press. Saint Paul. p. 7.
  4. ^ a b c Wallner, Joan (January 25, 1995). "Founding mothers: Twenty-five years at Amazon". Minnesota Women's Press. Saint Paul. pp. 19, 27.
  5. ^ a b Anderson, Bev (September 14, 1990). "Amazon bookstore celebrates 20 years". Equal Time (220).
  6. ^ Mieszkowski, Katharine (October 28, 1999). "Battle of the Amazons". Salon. Archived from the original on June 18, 2012.
  7. ^ ", Bookstore Settle Suit". 1999-11-04.
  8. ^ "True Colors Bookstore Newsletter". True Colors Bookstore. November 5, 2008.
  9. ^ Hertzel, Laurie (December 20, 2011). "True Colors bookstore puts out a plea for help". Star Tribune. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  10. ^ "The long climb back: A decision that forever changed bookstore owner's life". Pioneer Press. October 20, 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2012.
  11. ^ Hertzel, Laurie (February 24, 2012). "Saying goodbye to True Colors". Star Tribune.
  12. ^ Ann, Mary (December 27, 2011). "Pioneering True Colors feminist bookstore expected to close in February". Saint Paul Pioneer Press. Saint Paul.
  13. ^ Heilman, Dan (August 22, 1990). "Declaration of Independents". City Pages. Minneapolis. pp. 14–15.
  14. ^ Elledge, Jim (2010). Queers in American Popular Culture, Volume 1 p. 93. Praeger. ISBN 978-0-313-35457-1.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°55′0.75″N 93°15′45.01″W / 44.9168750°N 93.2625028°W / 44.9168750; -93.2625028