Giovanni's Room Bookstore

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Giovanni's Room in February 2014

Giovanni's Room Bookstore is a gay bookstore in Philadelphia. It has been called the oldest gay bookstore in America and the "center of gay Philly".[1] Founded in 1973 in Philadelphia, Giovanni's Room Bookstore is named after James Baldwin's gay novel Giovanni's Room. Philly AIDS Thrift took over the store after the owner retired in 2014 and the bookstore is now called Philly AIDS Thrift at Giovanni's Room.[2][3]


Giovanni's Room Bookstore is located on the corner of 12th and Pine Street in Philadelphia's gayborhood. The main building was built in 1820. The store was originally located on South Street and changed locations often in its first few years.[1]


Tom Wilson Weinberg, Dan Sherbo and Bern Boylethe opened Giovanni's Room in 1973 on the 200 block of South Street. The store was closed shortly afterward due to a homophobic landlord. Hermance and Arleen Oshan paid $500 for the business in 1976. The store then moved to 1426 Spruce Street but was eventually forced by the landlord to close. It was able to gather support from the gay and lesbian community and eventually moved to its last location on 12th and Pine.[1]

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission unveiled a marker on Sunday, October 15, 2011, to commemorate the location of Giovanni’s Room, as it is the country's first LGBT bookstore.[4][5]

In April 2014 the store's owner of 38 years, Ed Hermance, announced his retirement plans and closed the store on May 17, 2014.[6][1] He soon after made an agreement with Philly AIDS Thrift and they reopened the store as its proprietor that fall.


  1. ^ a b c d Gillespie, Tyler. "The Last Day at Giovanni's Room, America's Oldest Gay Bookstore". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  2. ^ Connie Wu (July 25, 2014). "Nation's Oldest LGBT Bookstore Rescued from Closing". OutTraveler.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Schechner, Karen. "Giovanni's Room Honored With Historical Marker". American Booksellers Association. Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  5. ^ "William Penn's Legacy, PHMC 2010-2011 Annual Report" (PDF). Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 July 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ Thomas, Angela. "Giovanni's Room to close next month". Philadelphia Gay News. Retrieved 28 April 2014.

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Coordinates: 39°56′43″N 75°09′40″W / 39.9452°N 75.1612°W / 39.9452; -75.1612