You’re about to buy books as holiday gifts this month. Before you get them from a national retailer, consider the story of Giovanni’s Room.
What’s painful for any indie bookstore owner to admit, of course, is that Amazon can pretty much always give the book buyer a better deal. “There’s no question about it,” Smith says. “If you come into our bookstore looking at a book that’s $25, but Amazon’s selling it for $20...” There are people, he notes, who are willing and eager to pay the extra few dollars for personal service from a proprietor they know—but they’re just too few and far between.
Hermance is looking to sell the building itself, not just the bookstore business, and the space is valued somewhere in the range of $700,000 and $850,000. He’s not interested in pocketing that loot, he says: “The value is going to go to the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund. I figure that the gay community built and created this store for itself. Thousands of people have worked here or volunteered here or shopped here or supported it in innumerable ways. I think that these buildings belong to the gay community.”
America’s oldest gay bookstore: that’s a weighty distinction. So even if the store has to move, has to change its functionality a little bit, queer and feminist Philadelphians are desperately hoping that a savior comes along soon and makes Hermance an offer he can’t refuse.
Meanwhile, at least six other indie bookstores are still selling new books in Philadelphia:
Joseph Fox Bookshop, Head House Books, Big Blue Marble, Black and Nobel, Penn Book Center and The Color Book Gallery.
In case you were wondering.
Happy holiday shopping.
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