There was much consternation earlier this year when it was announced that the oldest extant LGBT bookstore in the U.S., Giovanni’s Room in Philadelphia, PA, was to close. Named for James Baldwin’s 1956 sophomore novel, a classic of American gay literature, the store had been open since 1973. The store’s owner, Ed Hermance, summed up the importance of the store to Rolling Stone, saying, “Coming in to the store can be like coming out to yourself.”
At the time the closure was announced, Hermance had been trying unsuccessfully to find a buyer. He told journalist Dan Wing that it had become impossible to compete with the retail behemoth that is Amazon: “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.”
Now, in a rare bit of good news for the brick-and-mortar bookselling sector, MobyLives writes that the store may reopen this fall. According to Judith Rosen at Publishers Weekly, Hermance has found a buyer for the location.
When he announced the closing in May, Hermance said, of the possibility of new owners coming in, “Whatever it is that they do, it will have to be something different than what we are doing now. It won’t survive if it isn’t different” – advice that the new buyers seem to have taken to heart. For one thing, the store will be stocking more used LGBT titles than it has in the past, and “new sidelines, including fine furniture in one of the store’s five rooms.”
Here in Canada, Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop, opened in 1970, lays claim to being the world’s oldest LGBT bookstore, and Vancouver’s Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium has been open since 1983.