GIOVANNI’S ROOM BOOKSTORE in Philadelphia is the world’s largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Feminist bookstore. The catalog of titles it holds for us is staggering, and no where in any brick and mortar store, independent or corporate, can we find all these titles together to browse whenever we want, to purchase whenever we want. I worked at the store for nearly 7 years, and its importance for LGBT and feminist readers around the world was something I felt, and took seriously when it was felt.
While independent bookstores have been disappearing, none have been disappearing as quickly as queer/feminist bookstores. Corporate bookstores WILL NOT carry ALL these titles for you to discover. I remember a woman coming into the store who was 78 years old, and had been married, had children, and was now wanting to come out of the closet. The Coming Out section of books is unlike any other in the world, and I also showed her the video NITRATE KISSES. I forget what she purchased, but I remember feeling, truly feeling the importance of Giovanni’s Room Bookstore at helping create a place for this woman who was older than my grandmothers.
The store has survived MANY tough times, including bricks being thrown through the windows. The bricks from these hate crimes now line the owner’s garden. Edwin Hermance, Skip, and all their amazing staff and volunteers are facing an enormous crisis. Major reconstruction is about to take place on the store’s one wall, and it will cost A LOT of money. Edwin and Skip and all the staff want you to PLEASE shop at the store to help them in this time of need. IF THERE ARE BOOKS YOU WANT but cannot find, they WILL order them for you. Below is a note from Edwin Hermance with many more details. Please shop at Giovanni’s Room, for all our sake! CAConrad
from Edwin Hermance, owner of Giovanni’s Room Bookstore
Giovanni’s Room, the oldest independent LGBT bookstore in the United States today, needs your help and support to survive. Our 12th St. wall, which is structurally unsound, must be taken down and rebuilt from the ground up; construction will begin by sometime in August. The cost of this renovation, roughly $50,000, will not be easily paid; independent bookstores, lgbt bookstores included, have never been that profitable. Our store’s success is measured by the people Giovanni’s Room has helped in an almost limitless number of ways and by the exposure we have given to authors and publishers, filmmakers and musicians.
This will be a delicate time in the store’s history. We need your support more than ever, and the store will remain open during the construction. Here is what we are asking you to do:
*Continue to shop at Giovanni’s Room despite the challenges.
*Order in person, online, by email, and by phone.
*Show your support!
We have often faced adversity. In the beginning, in 1973, we had hardly any books to sell and the store was staffed 100% by volunteers. When homophobic landlords evicted us from the Spruce Street location and no one, on a major street, would rent to Giovanni’s Room, we were able to raise the down payment for the current location by borrowing from you, our customers. Over 100 volunteers helped renovate the building to make the beautiful space we have occupied since 1979.
Now, at this defining juncture, we have formed a Committee that will be addressing fundraising, volunteers, special community and author events, and other activities to help meet the cost of this repair.
Keep gay heritage alive. Volunteer your time – make a financial pledge! Your support to Giovanni’s Room will help us survive our 36th year.
345 South 12th St. (corner of 12th & Pine Sts.)
Philadelphia, PA 19107