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Oldest Gay Bookstore In U.S. Announces Its Closure

Sad news. The nation's oldest gay book store, Giovanni's Room in Philadelphia, will be closing its doors permanently.

The Associated Press reports:

The owner of Giovanni’s Room in Philadelphia says he’ll close the doors to the 41-year-old store by the end of next month.

Ed Hermance says he’s been losing money for a long time, in part due to online discount booksellers like Amazon.

Hermance says he’s been looking for a buyer since August, but has not been able to seal a deal for the business or the small brick building it occupies.

Supporters say Giovanni’s Room served as a resource, safe haven and gathering place for the city’s gay community.

Have any of you been customers at Giovanni's Room, Instincters? Will you miss the institution?


Although I haven't lived in Philadelphia since the early 90's, I remember Giovanni's Room and I'm sad to see the passing of another institution, especially a gay bookstore.  Ed Hermance, as I recall, was very kind and he allowed unlimited browsing for men and women, young and old, trying to navigate their sexuality.  As I was coming out and accepting being gay, I luckily found Giovanni's Room in 1976 after moving to downtown Philly.  Thank you Ed for hanging in for the past 41 years.  You and Giovanni's Room will be missed!

I'm surprised at the comments that say we no longer need such places.  Certainly we can find gay/lesbian books on Amazon at Barnes & Noble, etc, but these bookstores are a piece of our history and our community.  For me it wasn't just about finding books that spoke to my community it was a place, other than a bar, where I could find my community, interact with my community.  In the age of hook up aps and social media I find we are losing our connection with one another and with our history.

Maybe convert the book store into cafe/bookstore. Sad to see you go!

I agree that its a bittersweet event. Although much loved and remembered, gay bookstores are no longer needed. Along with the Internet, Barnes and Noble and other all-inclusive bookshops have been developing stronger gay and lesbian sections. Our voices are bring included and that change is a good one. We should be able to shop for ALL of our special interest books in one place, side by side with our straight brothers. Segregation does nothing but divide us. Point of fact, the majority of gay bookstores still around also sell national bestsellers. While its sad to see something that served as an oasis for us go, it just means acceptance is growing.

I remember the store and l remember it fondly. Yes, it is sad that such an important foundation in the Philly gay community is closing it's doors; however, it does show us how we no longer need such places to find books written by and for us.

I remember the store and l remember it fondly. Yes, it is sad that such an important foundation in the Philly gay community is closing it's doors; however, it does show us how we no longer need such places to find books written by and for us.

Its one of those places i read abt from years ago... places that i'd love to visit if ever I manage to afford a holiday...huhu.... btw.... i lived all my life in Borneo Island... Land of Hornbills and Headhunters... even I know about that place.... 

Though I've never been to this book store nor heard of Giovanni's Room, it's more of a surprise to me that any book store is able to survive the modern age. Just take a glimpse at how poorly written many of the comments are on any of these articles. Does anyone even bother to learn proper grammar, let alone appreciate reading a well-written piece? We're doomed to become lazy, computer-dependent slugs. (I say as I'm browsing online articles from the comfort of my own bed...)

I was born and raised in Philadelphia and worked a block away from Giovanni's at Spruce Street Video Store,,such a charming book store with real character,,where I learned that there was more to being gay than sex,,was 17 years old,,Shame,we're becoming a  society that doesn't leave the house for anything,,movies,books,food and even sex can be delivered 

this is where i bought my first (of many) copy of "another mother tongue" the book that made me queer instead of gay... i didnt live in philadelphia but visited there often... loved shopping in giovannis room... 

I was in there on March 26th. The section where the big photography books used to be was 98% empty, which was telling.  This is very, very sad.  I shall miss visiting there when I visit Philly from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

I wud love to buy it but I'm on a limited income. Maybe he can work on payments. Call me at 904 207 5075. My email is

Actually I've been there and I will miss it

Never heard of that bookstore...


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