Nation's Oldest LGBT Bookstore to Close

4.29.2014

By Neal Broverman

Philadelphia's beloved Giovanni's Room only has a few weeks left.

Giovanni's Room, one of the nation's last LGBT bookstores, will shuts its doors in downtown Philadelphia on May 17 after decades of operation.

Owner Ed Hermance announced a few years ago that he was looked to sell the 12th Street shop, hoping a buyer would take over Giovanni's Room. But the store had not made a profit in years and no realistic purchase emerged, Hermance stated.

Everything in the store will be 25 percent off beginning Wednesday, except for the books by the authors reading their works prior to the May 17 closing.

"I want to thank the hundreds of people who have worked in the store, both the salaried and the volunteers," Hermance said in his statement. "Above all, I'd like to thank Skip Strickler, the dean of the staff, and Richard Smith, the dean of the volunteers. Each has worked in the store for more than thirty-five years. I thank the thousands of customers, who have been our reason for being. I know we have helped a huge number of people in untold ways, and they have successfully helped the store when it was threatened."

Giovanni's Room opened in 1973 at a different location before moving to its current home. It's name comes from the 1956 novel by gay writer James Baldwin.

Bookstores catering to an LGBT audience are nearly extinct in America's big cities, with such businesses shuttering in recent years in the Castro, Chelsea, and West Hollywood.

Tags: Philadelphia
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