On Mar. 1, the bookstore turned around all books authored by men to illustrate how much more prominent men are in the written world than women, just in time for Women’s History Month.
“I have been bookselling for over 20 years, and every year I have taken the time and effort to highlight women’s works for Women’s History Month in March,” Harriet Logan, the bookstore’s founder and owner, told BuzzFeed. “This year, I wanted to do something different, something that would highlight not just the good works by women, but also the disparity in the industry. As someone who tries to carry female authors, the effect is shocking.”
The result is a veritable white-out on the shelves, which delivers a real wallop for anyone shopping at the store.
Logan estimates that just 37% of the works of fiction in her store were written by women.
Reshelving the books took place during a live performance-art project, in which approximately 10,000 volumes written by men were flipped around, page-side out.
That includes five columns of general fiction and five sections of poetry, according to Logan. She plans to keep the jarring display on view until Mar. 15.
“The customer response has been fantastic and warm,” Logan said. “Many people just stand there looking at the space, shaking their heads.”
“I want people to think: Is the gender gap really this uneven, and why? What does my personal library look like? What can be done to change this imbalance? And then go find a title by a female author you may or may not be familiar with — it’s easy to find them — and give it a try,” she said.
Plus, Logan said she’s already seen her project have an effect far beyond her store.
“A male teacher from St. Augustine, Florida, told me he turned all the male-authored books backward in his classroom for the month of March, and had a discussion with his students about gender disparity in such an important educational industry,” she said.