My son, Kyle Allen-Niesen, particularly enjoyed this bookstore during our summer vacation and agreed to write a review. Thank you, Kyle!
Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative in Madison, Wisconsin, is a lovely example of a community bonding together over literature. Its placement, just off the main commercial street in Madison, is such that it still can attract the careful tourist or college student; yet mainly appeal to the local community and its own members. The bookstore has two rooms, one entry where most of the new selections are displayed, and a second room with couches and gently used books sparely populating the shelves at substantial discounts. It is extremely liberal, although the fact that it is a Co-Op might have given that away, (members pay 30 dollars to get a 10 percent discount on all their books as well as a vote in the direction and choices of the store). The windows are festooned with “Recall-Walker” images and slogans, a common theme in the many bookstores of Madison. Clearly, the literary types are with the unions (me too!).
The shop primarily deals in new books with a majority dedicated to and critical literature and various rights movement materials. Never before have I seen entire sections dedicated to Empire, or Anarchy, and they had had more books on the Women’s Rights movement than stores with far more books. I had just recently learned the debate topic for I will be debating for the next two months concerned animal rights, and straight away the staff were able to point me to Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation, one of the core works in support of a fundamental equality for animals. The staff seemed knowledgeable, and fairly friendly, with extremely evident loyalty to their operation. We learned that most of the people behind the counter are volunteers from the members, and that the paid staff are the minority in the rotation running the store. All in all, with the incredible array of bookstores in Madison, it can sometimes be difficult to know which to visit. Of those, however, Rainbow is one to stop at. Its overt political leanings and interesting selection make for a unique perusing experience.
426 W. Gilman Street