CBC Toronto has recently reported that six major bookstores have closed or will soon… all in a span of less than six months. Chapters at Bloor West Village, Steven Temple Books, Book City Annex, the Cookbook Store and the World’s Biggest Book Store have all shut their doors. Chapters at John and Richmond will close at the end of the month. Oh dear… kids aren’t reading any more… electronic books are replacing paper… the death of page-turners is nigh… or is it?
I know the closures are not good news for employees of the book stores, authors whose books may not be on any other shelves, nor anyone else involved but remember when the monolithic book stores were stomping all over the independents? Remember “Sleepless is Seattle”? Well now there may be a little more room for independents again… and in my view that’s what a book store should be.
I like going into a store (any store, not just for books) where people know who I am and are genuinely interested in helping me. They know where things are; they can find them quickly; and they can speak knowledgeably about them. Also, an independent bookstore doesn’t need to have as many sales as a monolith to make ends meet. As for the “death of page turners” I am optimistic and I’ll tell you why.
Booklore, near the top of First Street in Orangeville, is my favourite bookstore. For birthdays and Christmas my mother buys us certificates there, and we return the favour, buying them for her. One afternoon I went in to Booklore, not looking for anything in particular that I recall – I may have been buying a card that time – and it was full of kids and their parents. There was no reason – no celebration or promotion – just a PD Day. Three of the school age children were looking over each others’ shoulders at a book in the kids’ section. Another was walking down the stairs carrying a book and two or three more were sitting on the floor next to the shelves, their legs out in the aisle, reading… not just reading, totally rapt. Warmed my heart it did.