Nation’s Oldest LGBT Bookstore, Giovanni’s Room, Closing

Last September we reported that Philadelphia's Giovanni's Room, the nation's oldest LGBT bookstore, was up for sale. Now it looks as though it is closing for good, Philadelphia Gay News reports:

GiovannisroomEd Hermance, who has owned the store for 38 years, announced his plans for retirement in the fall, planning to sell both the business and the two buildings it encompasses. He announced a potential sale agreement several weeks ago, but told PGN this week the buyer could not come up with enough money to finalize the sale.

Hermance said he made the difficult decision to close the store several days ago. Since the beginning of the year, Hermance said he had lost between $10,000-$15,000 in keeping Giovanni's Room open.

He blamed retailers such as Amazon for the tough environment independent bookstores are currently facing.

The bookstore is planning a sale beginning on Wednesday.

The paper adds:

"Hermance had been hoping to sell the business for $100,000 and the buildings for up to $750,000. He said he still intends to give proceeds made from the rental or sale of the buildings to Delaware Valley Legacy Fund upon his death."


  1. RandyNovak says

    He shouldn’t blame Amazon; if there’s blame to be placed it is on Philadelphia’s LGBT “community” for failing to support a local business.

  2. I wont grow up says

    Being a Philly born and raised gay man, I can’t help but feel very sad about this. I fondly remember going to Giovanni’s in the days of The DCA, The Steps and The Allegro. Those were golden times. Being of a “certain” age, I am long past my wild days, settled down with my partner of over 35 years in the burbs, we are both saddened that young gay men and women will be denied that “special” place to go to learn of their history and feel safe in the arms of their fellow “travelers” like we did when it was still very scarey to be gay.

  3. will says

    I don’t think we need gay bookstores anymore (we’re losing ALL our bookstores, regardless of whom the customers sleep with). This is assimilation. This is what we wanted. Integration into the larger culture. So CLOSE the gay restaurants and bars and clothing stores! Close the gay churches and gyms! Communities are seeing beyond sexual orientation, just like we’ve been fighting for.

  4. Jack M says

    A sad event. GR was a part of my life for the 13 years I lived in Philly, and Ed is a great guy. I had the pleasure of meeting author Samuel Delaney there when he gave a reading. So many great memories that I will cherish!

  5. Chris Haig says

    I worked at Giovanni’s Room back in the day. It truly was the “front door and living room of the gay community in Philadelphia”. I met so many amazing people who I still see in town all the time. I think it should become a non-profit museum celebrating LGBTQ literature, music, video and art!

  6. Derrick from Philly says

    I first visited Giovanni’s Room in the early 80’s. Ed Hermance was kind and welcoming back then as he is now. I’ll always be grateful to Mister Hermance for helping me not to feel isolated for being Gay.

    At Giovanni’s Room I also met a Black Gay man with a pair of most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. His name was Joseph Beam, and he became very influential in lives of Black LGBT folks all over this world–whether they know his name or not.

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