Giovanni’s Room, Nation’s Oldest LGBT Bookstore, for Sale

GiovannisroomThe Philadelphia LGBT bookstore Giovanni's Room, the oldest in the nation, is up for sale, its fate unknown, Philadelphia Gay News reports:

[Ed] Hermance, 73, has owned the independently run LGBT bookstore, nestled on the corner of Pine and 12th streets, since 1976.

The Powelton resident plans to step down this winter and is exploring options for keeping the business running under a new owner, but will have to sell to a different buyer if there is not sufficient support for continuing Giovanni’s Room.

“I know it’s possible for independent bookstores to thrive in the current environment. I don’t know if someone has the resources and the passion to continue the store,” he said. “If someone wanted to rent the space for a different kind of bookstore and no one wanted to continue Giovanni’s Room, I’d be pleased to rent it to them, thinking that it would be in their interest to help all the people who have depended on us.”

Hermance is handling the sale personally and said he will have asking prices determined later this month.

More at PGN


  1. deke says

    I well remember taking those first tentative steps into Giovanni’s Room when it opened on South Street. They only had a few titles when they opened. I was interviewed By the Baltimore Sun when Lambda Rising closed in Baltimore and asked what purpose the store served in a “post-gay” society. It was very important when I was coming out to find a safe space where I could get reliable information. It still is. I hope Hermance can find a buyer.

  2. Jack M says

    I lived in Phila. for 13 years, and going to Giovanni’s Room was always one of my favorite indulgences. They had many great authors there and the staff was awesome. I would hope that space would be taken over by someone who would keep it an LGBT bookstore. Keep your fingers crossed.

  3. KHW says

    I try to make a point of buying something from Giovanni’s Room whenever I’m in Philadelphia. It is a true treasure and Ed Hermance is owed a huge debt of gratitude by the community.

  4. Derrick from Philly says

    Ed Hermance is a wonderful man. He always made everyone feel comfortable in Giovanni’s Room–even a 21 year old Black queen wearing too much women’s make-up, and years later sometimes coming in the bookstore smelling of bourbon.

    Ed was responsible for me meeting Joseph Beam and Essex Hemphill–two giant figures in LGBT literature.

    thanks Ed, for the last 34 years of making me feel comfortable in your spot.

    Oh, and SAMIAM, Ed is White.

  5. jonvictor says

    It’s times like these that I wish a gay celebrity with cash $$ such as Neil Patrick Harris or Ellen D. would come through and try to keep a historic and meaningful place like this alive. I shudder to think that within a year it may become a Hooters or a low-class sports pub.

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