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culture

Lost Words

With news this week that three bookstores—The Book Mark, Glad Day, and Dragon Lady Comics—are to be sold or closed, we look back at some beloved bookshops from Toronto's past.


Ballenford Books. David Mirvish Books. Pages. This Ain’t The Rosedale Library. All established book stores that have closed within the past four years. With The Book Mark joining that list, Dragon Lady Comics shutting its physical store, and Glad Day Bookshop up for sale, it feels as if Toronto is experiencing a cycle of closures similar to the late 1990s.

Back then, blame initially fell upon big box stores like Chapters and Indigo; now it’s online retailers and e-books. In both cases these big bads were only part of the problem: increased rent appears to be a critical element of the current closure cycle, the exact opposite of the low-priced leases that aided the high number of bookstore openings during the 1970s. Cold commentators might say that technology is making bookstores obsolete, or that owners should only blame themselves when their business ends, but whenever any long-running store closes, it feels as if a reassuring piece of the local landscape has gone with it.

In the gallery above, a tiny sample of past bookstores that left their mark on Toronto and its readers.

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