On Book City & My Favourite Neighbourhood

9 thoughts on “On Book City & My Favourite Neighbourhood”

  1. Laurie – I love Rove. I read a few pages – then i think on them then i read them again.
    It is so good. Next time i see you I will get you to sign it! OK.

  2. I always felt Book City was already a kind of “discount store” when there were more independent stores (ie. Nicholas Hoare, Albert Britnell) around. It never felt homey or welcoming until we had nowhere else to go, and I never even knew who the owner was. In other words, it never felt like a place run by a book lover or staffed by book lovers, and so if that was its only route to survival, I think it was too late for them to change. I’ll miss it, too, but I think I miss the stores with real personality even more.

    1. Did you read the Torontoist’s piece on the Book City closing? It told some history and included some of the store’s old ads, which was really good to see: http://torontoist.com/2014/01/book-city-closes-a-chapter/

      I learned yesterday that each Book City location is still about half remainders. I’ve also heard others express a feeling that there was a lack of vision in recent years. I think you’re right that conversations about livelihood would have had to happen (and I’m sure very much did) a long time ago. It’s a tough one for the neighbourhood, and I am very curious to see what’s going to open up in its place. Thanks for reading, James.

      1. I hadn’t seen the Torontoist piece but just read it now. Some good background and those ads brought back some memories! I was 14 in 1979 and I’m sure I saw some of those ads. The dig at “weekend specials” was aimed at David Mirvish Books (now also closed!) who would run weekend sales. Also remembering Edwards’ Books and Art (Queen near Spadina), Lichtmans (multiple locations) and of course the wonderful Pages, now all gone. Someone ought to write a book on all of Toronto’s lost bookstores, but of course, who would read it? 🙂

  3. Good analysis. The new+used model seems to be working well at BMV, which has been consistenly busier than Book City since it opened on the site of another vanished Annex landmark, the Hungarian Castle. Book City’s standing 10% discount on new hardcovers obviously didn’t resonate with the new+used crowd. BMV was an invitation to adapt that Donker seems to have ignored. I’ll miss the Annex store, but am glad that there are still three independents – A Good Read, Another Story and She Said Boom – in my Roncesvalles neighbourhood. There were none here when I moved in.

  4. Well stated, Laurie. Ever since I moved to Toronto I’ve kept an eye on how each of the downtown neighbourhoods have evolved (some better, some worse, usually a mix of both). It’s sad to see that location of Book City close, but I think it’s fair to say that, as well as the other nuanced observations you’ve made, they didn’t really *do* anything to change with the times. Sadly, today (hell, for the past 10 years) you cannot rent a space and stalwartly decry I AM BOOK and expect to pay rent reliably. Which is not to say it’s easy for anyone – anyone, whether they be selling vacuum cleaners or books – to compete with the likes of Amazon or Indigo. And I do agree, there are always going to be those who might just dream big enough to make a 21st century Book City happen.

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