Menu

UNABRIDGED BOOKSTORE: A LAKEVIEW GEM

Unabridged Bookstore (3251 N Broadway Street), one of the city’s top independent bookstores, opened its doors for business on November 1, 1980 as a general bookstore with a large gay and lesbian section. In the years since, the shop has expanded to the storefronts on either side and is now over 5,000 square feet of glorious bibliophile paradise.

 

The Unabridged Way

Although size of the store and the demographics of the Lakeview neighborhood have changed in the interim, owner Ed Devereux maintains that little has altered in regards to a focus on making Unabridged the best brick-and-mortar neighborhood bookstore it can be. “We try to achieve this in many ways: by selling only books (no sidelines), by hiring only full-time staff and paying them living wages with full benefits, by maintaining a personal relationship with our customers, and by championing literature and our collective love of reading and our enthusiasm for book selling.”

 

What Changes and What Remains the Same

When asked how the store itself has changed, Devereux explained that the most common change is the mix of books and the space devoted to various sections which reflect shifts in the neighborhood as well as shifts in the cultural and political times. “We have always been a full-service, full-line general bookstore with a specialty in gay literature, but some might be surprised to hear we now sell a lot more children’s books than gay books. Within the gay section we have added a transgender section, and in recent years we have also expanded our poetry section, as well as our African-American, women’s, and graphic novels sections. Most recently we have doubled the size of our current events section, including a Reading for the Resistance section.”

 

What’s So Special

Unabridged Bookstore

When asked about changes in the industry since 1980, Devereux cites the advent of discounting, the rise and fall of superstores like Borders, the rise of Amazon, online book selling, and e-books. However, Devereux is quick to add that at Unabridged the process of book selling is much like it was in 1980. “Of course, we make use of computers and social media, but we mainly convey our enthusiasm for books we have read and liked by using shelf talkers throughout the store.” Indeed, Unabridged is well known for their “little yellow shelf signs” which have been a signature means of selling favorite titles of the Unabridged staff for almost 37 years.  

Manager Shane Khosropour adds “Our handwritten recommendation cards are our trademark and we love writing them.” What is quickly apparent at the shop is that Unabridged is a store run by avid readers who love recommending books. Says Khosropour, “No algorithms here, just personalized recommendations, often from smaller independent presses that are frequently overlooked. ”

Bookseller Katharine Solheim adds that for her, one of the great strengths of the store is that Unabridged, “highlights small publishers by collecting their works in specific sections.”

 

Chicago According to Shane

Manager Khosropour had a few recommendations for an LGBTQ patron seeking suggestions for where to have a cocktail or two. Khosropour mentions the downtown bar The Second Story (157 East Ohio Street #2), the legendary Uptown establishment Big Chicks (5024 North Sheridan Road) which he cites as a great place for dancing and socializing, and Roger’s Park Social (6920 North Glenwood Avenue) which he says is always a great place to unwind with a cocktail.

For his hidden gem of Chicago, Khosropour picked Lost Eras (1511 Howard Street) in Roger’s Park, “Because it has everything you could ever want, everything you didn’t know existed but now desperately need, and enough whimsy and weirdness to make for an unforgettable browsing/retail experience.” He also named the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool (125 West Fullerton Parkway) in Lincoln Park as, “the perfect quiet little retreat to immerse yourself in nature right in the heart of busy Chicago.”

For an itinerary for “showing off the city” to visiting LGBTQ friends, Khosropour mentions The Art Institute (111. South Michigan Avenue), followed by a trip to Millennium Park (201 East Randolph Street), the Wendella Architectural Boat Tour (400 North Michgian Avenue) followed by a visit to Reckless Records in Lakeview (3126 North Broadway Street), and dinner at El Maya (1522 West Montrose Avenue).”   

 

Ed’s LGBTQ Literature Picks

As someone who has been passionately selling LGBTQ literature for decades, Unabridged owner Ed Devereux named the top 3 fiction and non-fiction titles he thinks every LGBTQ person should read:

Fiction

1. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
2. Dance From the Dance by Andrew Holleran
3. The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine

Non-Fiction

1.   Palmipest by Gore Vidal
2. Gay Berlin by Robert Beachy
3. Genet: A Biography by Edmund White

 

Visit Unabridged

Unabridged Bookstore is a large independent bookstore which focuses on LGBTQ titles, small presses, and politically progressive books. In addition to a diverse and notable inventory in almost every area of interest from presses large and small, Unabridged highlights include large children’s and poetry sections, art books, cookbooks, an extensive current events section, a room of remainder books, and an award winning travel section. Adds Khosropour with a smile, “We carry stuff you won’t easily find elsewhere.”

 

Unabridged Store Hours

  • Monday through Friday 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM​
  • Saturday and Sunday 10:00 - 7:00 PM

Learn more at unabridgedbookstore.com.

Featured Partners

Related Readings
Big Chicks
Michelle Fire opened the  Uptown...
Leigh Gallery
The Leigh Gallery  (3306 N. Halsted St.),...
The Leather Archives and Museum
 The 10,000 square foot two-story ...
Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club
Located in Chicago’s  Lakeview...
Marty's Martini Bar
If you’re looking for the ambiance of a...
The Baton
The legendary  Baton Show Lounge  (436...
The SoFo Tap
The SoFo Tap (4923 North Clark Street) opened in...
Women and Children First
The northeast corner of Clark Street and Farragut...
Unabridged Bookstore
Unabridged Bookstore, one of the city’s top...

Book A Trip