The closure of the oldest LGBT bookstore in the country is a grim sign for the future of an invaluable industry
Giovanni’s Room in Philadelphia is the oldest and possibly largest LGBT bookstore in the nation. And now, after four decades, it’s closing. This news should make everyone involved in the business of LGBT literature — publishers, editors, authors, reviewers, and, of course, readers — pause and consider what this means for the future of their industry.
I have been close to Ed Hermance, the owner of Giovanni’s Room, for many years. In my 20s, I was a frequent customer of the bookstore, taking the train from southern New Jersey to purchase books and magazines. In my mid-30s, while attending graduate school at Rutgers-Camden, I worked at the store. Somewhere in-between, I started Lethe Press, and have sold many books to Ed over the years. I think he harbored a dream that I would one day buy the store from him. But in the 21st century, the thought of owning a bookstore was a daunting one — news of such stores closing across the country was a common article in the pages of “Publishers Weekly.” No, I hoped Ed, when he did decide to retire, would find someone who could devote time to the shop not as a publisher or an author but as a devoted reader and eager bawd of LGBT books, pressing important titles into the hands of customers.
Now the sad news is that Giovanni’s Room will be closing. There will be one fewer LGBT bookseller in a major metropolitan city that has a smattering of gay bars and nightclubs (Grindr cannot serve you drinks or host drag shows), a newspaper, the Philadelphia Gay News, that is thinner than a comb-over. Read More
I`m not sure I understand how a group that wants mainstream recognition would not endeavor for acceptance by becoming part of society rather than clutching to exclusion. Would it not be better to go to a bar that is mixed with straights and gays rather than exclusively gay. Would that not be better for equality. Same thing with Literature, there are plenty of gay writers, why can they not simply write in the specific genre. Is it not better to be available on amazon or in Coles than in some exclusive little bookstore.