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Oldest LGBT bookstore in US to close May 17

Giovanni’s Room owner blames retailers like Amazon for tough environment

Giovanni’s Room, in Philadelphia, the oldest LGBT bookstore in the United States, will close its doors May 17. Credit: uwishunu.com

Giovanni’s Room, in Philadelphia, the oldest LGBT bookstore in the United States, will close its doors May 17, Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) reports.

Ed Hermance says companies like Amazon have made the retail environment difficult for bookstores like Giovanni’s, which he has owned for almost 40 years. In an interview with Publishers Weekly last year, Hermance said that he hadnt drawn a salary since 2007, when he went on social security, and that the store had been losing money.

Founded in 1973, Giovanni’s was initially volunteer-run. “The founders weren’t entrepreneurs. It took a community,” Hermance says. He says he had been looking for and had found a buyer, but that person could not come up with enough money to close the deal.

PGN quotes Hermance as saying that the store’s closure is a blow to him and the community that cared about it.  

According the report, the bookstore’s inventory includes more than 48,000 books and offers five million titles online, including 3.5 million e-books.