Giovanni's Room, Reportedly Nation's Oldest LGBT Bookstore, To Close In May

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GIOVANNIS ROOM CLOSING
Customers shop at Giovanni's Room bookstore in Philadelphia Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2003. | ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Giovanni's Room, which is believed to be the nation's oldest surviving bookstore catering to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, is set to close next month.

The future of the Philadelphia bookstore, which opened in 1973, had been in jeopardy for some time, but owner Ed Hermance confirmed the news April 28. The store will close May 17, according to Philadelphia Gay News

“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,” Hermance, who owned Giovanni's Room for 38 years, told the publication. Although he claimed to have lost between $10,000-$15,000 in keeping Giovanni's Room open since the start of 2014, he seemed cautiously optimistic that the shop could be resurrected in some form, but noted: “Whatever it is that they do, it will have to be something different than what we are doing now. If won’t survive if it isn’t different.”

Hermance had announced his plans to retire last fall, telling CBS Philly, "It’s a job of a lifetime, but I can’t make it work anymore. This place needs a new energy.”

He nonetheless seemed nostalgic about the variety of customers he'd met over the years, noting, "Coming in meant they were willing to admit they were interested in what we had to offer. It was almost like coming out.”

He now says he’s considering starting a regularly-scheduled walking tour of LGBT Philadelphia, according to CBS Philly.

New York's Oscar Wilde Bookshop, which opened in 1967 and was previously the nation's oldest bookstore dedicated to LGBT readers, closed in 2009, according to The New York Times.

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