Oldest LGBT bookstore in the US closing in May

'I know that thousands of people have used and cared about this store'

Oldest LGBT bookstore in the US closing in May
29 April 2014

The oldest LGBT bookstore in the US will permanently shut its doors next month.

The owner of Giovanni’s Room, located in the US northeastern city Philadelphia, made the announcement today (28 April).

Ed Hermance, the store’s proprietor for 38 years, told the Philadelphia Gay News the store was to be sold, but the potential buyer could not come up with enough funds. When the deal folded, Hermance decided to close shop.

Since the new year, the owner claims he’s lost between $10,000 to $15,000 (€7,000 to €11,000) to keep the store open.

The business’ last day is 17 May.

In his interview, Hermance blamed online book sellers for making it difficult for independent bookstores to be profitable.

‘The government is allowing Amazon to tighten their fingers around the throats of the publishers and drive their retail competitors out of the business by clearly monopolistic methods,’ he said.

A press conference is scheduled for tomorrow, 29 April, to make the announcement official.

‘It has been a wonderful life for me and it combines my best skills with my deepest interests, so it certainly is going to be a lifetime’s work,’ Hermance said to Philadelphia Gay News. ‘I know that thousands of people have used and cared about this store. It is very emotional for me.’

Queer writer and comedian Ali Davis noted to GSN that places like Giovanni’s Room serve a vital function for young people realizing they are LGBTI.

‘Finding that bookstore is so important when you’re young and queer,’ Davis wrote in an email to GSN. ‘A search through an online store isn’t the same as that first bricks-and-mortar browsing where you may not know what you’re looking for until you see it there on the shelf.’

‘Once you’ve first stepped into that store, into that safe space, there’s a few moments where you feel like you have to be nervous, like when you tried to browse the tiny gay & lesbian section at the big chain bookstore and anybody could walk by and see you in that aisle,’ Davis continued.

‘And then you realize that it’s different, that you can own that space instead of sliding around the edges, and that the clerk is smiling because he just might be happy to see you finding your way in there,’ she added.



No thumbnail available

Library bans you from finding out about pits, perverts and Pride

Jane Fae takes on web filters, calling out the UK government for using a filtering system that does not comply with UK equality law
No thumbnail available

Boy Scouts of America delays its decision on allowing gay members to May

Board says it needs more time 'due to the complexity of this issue'
No thumbnail available

Newlywed gay couple ask Israel court to recognize prenup agreement

A legally married gay couple asked an Israeli court to validate a spousal support agreement signed between them
No thumbnail available

Malaysia lawyer says LGBT rights should be excluded from human rights declaration

VP of Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia says his country cannot accept recognition of LGBT rights in the ASEAN human rights declaration
No thumbnail available

Australia PM's lesbian sister confident gay marriage will come by end of year

'Reform is inevitable in a developed Western democracy like Australia'
No thumbnail available

Oxford Uni rewrites ancient dress code for trans students

Students will now be allowed to wear the ceremonial dress code of either gender to exams breaking a centuries old tradition
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Chile may be next South American country to legalize gay marriage

A coalition of Chilean lawmakers from the Christian Democrats, Socialist Party, Party for Democracy and Amplitude political movement will introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the hope that the government will support the reform
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Conan to perform The Simpsons ‘Monorail’ song with gay choir

Former writer of the animated sitcom will return for three nights to sing from his most famous episode Marge vs the Monorail