Tag Archives: books

Book City now a Ghost Town

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“It is with great sadness that we have to announce the closing of our annex location.” So reads the first line in the letter taped to the door of the former annex location of Book City. “…The onslaught of the e-reader and the relentless on-line book business have made operating a general brick and mortar bookstore more challenging.”

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It’s hard to fight the convenience of an e-reader. You don’t have to lug hard covers on the subway. No extra weight in your suitcase. You don’t have to drop off the ones you no longer like at Goodwill or sell them at a garage sale. But when I see another beloved bookstore go out of business it makes me want to spend every last cent I have on real books. 10 reasons real books are better than e-books and here are 5 more.

Reason 11 – The Slow Movement
Just as the slow food movement promotes the joys of cooking from scratch, the act of browsing in a bookstore is much more soulful than scrolling through books online. There’s something meditative about picking books up off the shelf and leafing through their pages.

Reason 12 – Book Seller Recommendations
Book sellers love what they do. They want to introduce you to their favourite reads. Hearing them speak passionately about their favourite author is much more satisfying than reading online reviews.

Reason 13 – Other People’s Bookcases
You’ve been invited to someone’s home for dinner and they insist they don’t need any help in the kitchen. So you cradle your glass of wine and look at their bookcase. You make a note of the books you’ve already read and the ones you have yet to read. You browse.

You’re not going to pick up their e-reader.

Reason 14 – Cover Art
There are so many gorgeous book covers. Having books on your shelves is the same as having pictures of your loved ones on the wall. They’re beautiful and comforting.

Reason 15 – Crushed Dreams
If the world goes digital, if every bookstore goes out of business, my dream of entering a bookstore and finding the spine of my book on its shelf will be crushed. Do I love my blog? Yes. Do I love reading articles from other bloggers? Yes. Is it the same as seeing my published work on the shelf of a bookstore?…

No. It’s just not.

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Interview: Chris Szego

On Harbord Street just west of Spadina is quite possibly the most awesome bookstore that ever existed. There’s nothing fancy about its design and its not massive in size, but it exclusively houses science fiction and fantasy books. (What?!)

Bakka Phoenix Books opened in 1972 and is Canada’s oldest SF&F bookstore. (The name, Bakka, was taken from Frank Herbert’s Dune, and means ‘the weeper who mourns for all mankind’. Intense!) Be sure to check out their website for new releases and special events.

I contacted Manager Chris Szego who was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Tell us a bit about your gig. How do you go about choosing stock? How do you work with authors?

Since we’re located in Toronto, all the major publishers send reps to talk to me and we go through the catalogues together. As for working with authors, we host events all the time – readings, launches, panel discussions, etc.

Vampires are out. Zombies are in. What do you predict will be the next big trend?

First, I have to report that vampires are not out. They’re never out. Zombies are out (please, let them be out!). As for trends, they’re hard to predict (and even harder to create). But the desire for solid stories and real characters never goes out of style.

Fans of sci-fi/fantasy are very passionate about their favs. Have you or a member of your staff ever been involved in a heated debate? About which book?

We read, write, and talk about books. That’s what we do. We have intense discussions all the time. Generally not in the sense of ‘angry’; more in the sense of ‘involved’.

The store has had some bad luck recently with a flood, a break-in and now working around construction. Is Bakka cursed?

The floods and the construction are linked and seem to have been solved (…did you hear that roof? You’re fixed! No more leaks!). As for the break in, it happens. If you run a business in a major city sooner or later it’s going to happen. Better than when we were still located on Yonge Street. When the Leafs would lose in the playoffs random jackwagons would walk up the street kicking in all the doors.

What new releases are you super excited about?

Republic of Thieves is the 3rd book in Scott Lynch’s ‘Gentlemen Bastards’ series and it has finally arrived! Scott himself will be on hand for our Sorta-Annual-Christmas party on December 14th. You should come too!

I’ll be there!

Bakka Phoenix Books – 84 Harbord Street, Toronto
Monday through Friday: 11AM to 7PM
Saturday: 11AM to 6PM
Sunday: Noon to 5PM

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My Own Bookshelf Porn

Some of you may have been to my links page and clicked on Bookshelf Porn. (If you haven’t, for the love of God do so now!)

There are many, many, wonderful bookstores in Toronto worthy of Bookshelf Porn. Elliot’s is one of them.

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Elliot’s is a used bookstore at Yonge and Wellesley. They have three floors of book goodness including a very impressive fantasy/sci-fi section.

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Elliot’s… You have made my Bookshelf Porn. Congratulations!

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Word On The Street – Book and Magazine Festival Extraordinaire!

I’ve attended Word On The Street’s annual book and magazine festival for several years now (I even volunteered one year. Still have the tee-shirt) and it’s been wonderful every year.

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This is a small section of the festival. There really are so many beautiful books! Not to mention fantastic authors who read their work and give advice to emerging writers.

And did I mention that this festival is free? FREE!

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I totally want to drive this…

In addition to exploring the book vendors tents, I also ventured into The Humber School for Writers Workshop Marquee.

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They had an excellent line up of panels and talks. I attended Close Your Eyes and Think of Book Sales facilitated by Humber School for Writers faculty members Kim Moritsugu and Antanas Sileika with participants literary agent Monica Packeco and author Elizabeth Ruth

Monica had some good tips but the two biggest take-aways for me were from Elizabeth:

1) Bring people with you. What does that mean? Well, why have an event just starring you? Why not partner with another author who can bring their audience and contacts with them. Sending out e-blasts? Why not mention other authors who can do the same for you? Scratch some backs. They might scratch yours.

2) Saying yes to something small can lead to something big. You never know who knows who, what they do for a living or how they can help you. Say yes – to everything. Readings, book club appearances, whenever opportunity comes knocking – answer. You never know what it might lead to.

If you are a reader, a writer, an all-around lover of books, I highly recommend you attend next year. If you don’t live in Toronto, Word On The Street also takes place in Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener and Halifax. (…And if you don’t live in any of those places, I say you should lobby for your city!)

I want to thank all of the dedicated staff and volunteers who make this event happen. The festival is amazing. You’re amazing. Thank you.

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My favourite books

I don’t intend to review books on this blog, but I thought I would share some of my favourites because they’re so friggin’ good!
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