April 14, 2009
Another One Bites the Dust
Librairie Champlain, the only real french bookstore in Toronto (Maison de la Press in Yorkville sells some books as well, but specializes primarily in magazines), is closing up shop at the end of the month.
There has been a lot of press lately about the resilience of independent bookstores, citing the sprinkling of new shops which have opened in Toronto in the last few years – Type, The Monkey’s Paw, Re: Reading, Circus and of course, the new McNally Robinson store to name a few almost all of them. I’m on the fence about whether the overall shape of Toronto independents is good or bad. It certainly is heartening to see all the new stores. But they aren’t replacing the old ones. What’s being lost is the specialty stores – David Mirvish Books on Art, Champlain and Ballenford Books on Architecture (to name three of this year’s casualties) were old stores with very deep, specialized knowledge of their product. As cool as the new stores may be, with the exception of Monkey’s Paw, they basically sell more of the same thing everyone sells.
I also wonder how long they will last. None of the new stores are more than three years old. Will they go the distance? Or are we still floating on the new owners’ optimism and capital?
Anyway, it is sad to see another great old shop felled by, largely, online competition. Buying books is a political act, kids. Shop ethically.