Giovanni’s Room, the Country’s Oldest LGBT Bookstore, Rumored to Reopen

July 24, 2014

Giovanni’s Room

To the delight of brick-and-mortar bookstore supporters and print book fans everywhere, Giovanni’s Room in Philadelphia, the oldest existing LGBT bookstore in the country, is rumored to reopen this fall. The store, named for James Baldwin’s 1956 novel about an American man’s relationships with other men in Paris, had been open to the public since 1973 before its closure this past May.

Ed Hermance, former storeowner, had been trying to find a buyer before its recent closure, but was ultimately unsuccessful. Of the competition with Amazon and other retail giants, he had said to journalist Dan Wing, “It’s not possible for a store like ours to compete with somebody who doesn’t have to make a profit, and they don’t make a profit. But their investors don’t care as long as they’re tightening their grip on the throats of the publishers.”

But according to Judith Rosen at Publisher’s Weekly, Hermance may have recently snagged a buyer, a local LGBT organization, and if all goes well, the new buyer will take over the lease on August 1 and open in the fall. Hermance has declined to name the buyer until the deal has been sealed.

Hermance said the bookstore will continue to operate under the same name, but will have a significant amount of new LGBT titles available, in addition to new furniture. “Whatever it is that [the new owners] do, it will have to be something different than what we are doing now. It won’t survive if isn’t different,” he said, according to MobyLives.

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