Begins Publication Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Lambda Rising Book Report, the first publication dedicated to reviewing books by, for, and about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, has led to an expanded market for GLBT literature and an increase in the acquisition of GLBT-themed books of all genres in libraries around the United States.

Summary of Event

In 1974, Deacon Maccubbin had founded Lambda Rising Bookstores;Lambda Rising bookstore in Washington, D.C., one of the first and most successful gay bookstores in the United States at the time. Thirteen years later, during the blossoming of GLBT literature in the 1980’s, Maccubbin founded the Lambda Rising Book Report (or, simply, the Report), the first publication devoted to reviewing GLBT books. [kw]Lambda Rising Book Report Begins Publication (May, 1987) [kw]Publication, Lambda Rising Book Report Begins (May, 1987) Publications;Lambda Rising Book Report Media;Lambda Rising Book Report Book reviews in Lambda Rising Book Report Economics;and GLBT literature[literature] [c]Publications;May, 1987: Lambda Rising Book Report Begins Publication[1770] [c]Literature;May, 1987: Lambda Rising Book Report Begins Publication[1770] [c]Organizations and institutions;May, 1987: Lambda Rising Book Report Begins Publication[1770] Maccubbin, Deacon Dirmeyer, Robert Troxell, Jane Marks, Jim

Maccubbin, who served as the Report’s publisher for several years, started the journal because information about gay-related publications was not readily available to librarians and booksellers in 1987. As Lambda Rising’s owner, he knew firsthand that publishers did not effectively advertise their GLBT books. A political activist and bibliophile, Maccubbin also wanted to increase GLBT literacy with the Report. As with his bookstore, he said he created the Report as a mission, not as a means for profit.

Comparable in format to The New York Times Book Review, the Report features bimonthly reviews of contemporary GLBT literature, articles often written by authors themselves. Each issue also contains special features and lists of best-selling paperback and hardcover books for men and women. Like other GLBT publications at the time, the Report also provided space for GLBT advertisements. Unlike other publications, however, the Report has maintained its focus on GLBT literature and the spread of literacy throughout the community.

The first issue of the Report was published in May of 1987. Robert Dirmeyer was the journal’s first editor, but after only a few issues, Jane Troxell took over and served as editor until 1993. For several issues, the Report was distributed as an insert in larger GLBT publications, such as the Washington Blade and Frontiers. Maccubbin had arranged this method of distribution in order to reach a larger audience. He accomplished his goal resoundingly: The Report had a circulation of nearly 100,000 in 1987, whereas the circulation was one-tenth that size in 2004.

In 1990, the Report changed from a tabloid format to a magazine format, and the magazine’s name was changed to Lambda Book Report. Not coincidentally, in 1996, the bookstore disassociated itself from the journal for two reasons: the high cost of maintaining the publication, and the Report staff’s mission of literacy. So the Report was handed over to the Lambda Literary Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Jim Marks, who had been a staff member on the Report and who became the magazine’s publisher. Also, with the 1996 ownership transfer the Report became a monthly.

Significance

Founded during the apex of the HIV-AIDS crisis and only five months before the massive AIDS protest on the nation’s capital in October, 1987, the Lambda Rising Book Report provided a source of community solidarity and edification during a politically tempestuous decade. Because of anti-GLBT backlash caused by paranoia and naïveté about HIV-AIDS, much of the media exposure in 1987 was negative. The Report, however, offered positive reading. It publicized the literary accomplishments of lesbians and gays for a national audience, and its neutral political tone, particularly compared with that of activist magazines such as OutWeek, revealed the versatility of the efflorescent GLBT press and offered a less-combative—though liberating in its own right—national voice from a GLBT journal.

Also, according to Maccubbin’s mission statement, the Report allowed gays and lesbians to purchase reading material that was otherwise not carried in libraries or major bookstores. Aside from Lambda Rising bookstore in Washington, D.C., Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop in New York City, and A Different Light bookstore in Los Angeles, most bookstores did not carry GLBT literature, especially nonfiction and specialty books. Lesbian and lesbian-feminist books were being sold by women’s bookstores, however, since the early 1970’s. Accordingly, the Report aimed to bring the whole of contemporary GLBT writing to the reading public’s attention.

At the same time, the journal helped to rectify the absence of GLBT books available through such venues. Since many libraries required that their acquisitions first be reviewed by a national publication, and since publishers were not communicating well with booksellers about the GLBT books they published, libraries and booksellers needed a national journal that reviewed GLBT books in a timely manner. Fulfilling this need, the Report became well known as the best source for reviews of GLBT materials. It remains the best single source of such reviews.

At a time when GLBT literature was growing in both quantity and quality, the Report also played a significant role in launching the careers of many writers. E. Lynn Harris, for example, sent an unsolicited, self-published manuscript of his first book, Invisible Life, to editor Jane Troxell, who then assigned a review of the book for the Report. Harris’s career then blossomed, and he became one of the most popular and respected GLBT authors writing in the last half of the twentieth century. The Report also gave many GLBT writers an opportunity to write reviews, conduct and publish interviews, and write other articles for a national publication. Publications;Lambda Rising Book Report Media;Lambda Rising Book Report Book reviews in Lambda Rising Book Report Economics;and GLBT literature[literature]

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Groff, David. “Queer Publishing: Between the Covers.” Poets & Writers 21, no. 3 (1993): 48-55.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Ridinger, Robert B. Marks. “So’s Your Old Lady: Naming Patterns in the Gay and Lesbian Press.” Journal of Homosexuality 28, no. 4 (1994).
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Streitmatter, Rodger. Unspeakable: The Rise of the Gay and Lesbian Press in America. Winchester, Mass.: Faber and Faber, 1995.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Weeks, Linton. “Bookseller’s Success Speaks Volumes: Lambda Rising Owner Helped Bring Gay Literature Out of the Closet.” The Washington Post, April, 2003, p. C-1.

1896: Der Eigene Is Published as First Journal on Homosexuality

June, 1947-February, 1948: Vice Versa Is Published as First Lesbian Periodical

1953: ONE Magazine Begins Publication

1967: Los Angeles Advocate Begins Publication

Fall, 1967: Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop Opens as First Gay Bookstore

1970: Amazon Bookstore Opens as First Feminist-Lesbian Book Shop

1971: Lesbian Tide Publishes Its First Issue

June, 1971: The Gay Book Award Debuts

November, 1971: The Body Politic Begins Publication

October, 1974: Lesbian Connection Begins Publication

December 31, 1977: Toronto Police Raid Offices of The Body Politic

1980: Alyson Begins Publishing Gay and Lesbian Books

January, 1986: South Asian Newsletter Trikone Begins Publication

June 2, 1989: Lambda Literary Award Is Created

Categories: History Content