So long, Pages

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jrose
So long, Pages

Sad news out of Toronto today. After 30 years, Pages book store is closing its doors.

http://torontoist.com/2009/07/last_page.php

It definitely doesn't come as a surprise, but regardless, it's sad. I've been to a number of events held by Pages (This is Not a Reading Series), so it's sad to see this store become another statistic of an independent bookstore unable to compete against the Indiblows of the world.

This might be a good thread to discuss independent bookstores in general. Among my favourites are Octopus Books (Ottawa) and Bryan Prince Bookseller (Hamilton).

Michelle

No way!  :(  I had no idea.

That's really sad.

Caissa

I loved shopping at Octopus when I lived in ottawa 85-87. It has certainly stood the test of time.

jrose

The only reason I saw it coming was because I've stumbled upon the Facebook group dedicated to saving it. It really is so sad. It was always my go-to for independent magazines while in Toronto.

Stargazer

I love that store! I can't believe it is closing. We're losing a great place.

jrose

From what I understand they're planning to keep their reading series running, which is at least a tiny bit of good news. The reading series sponsored Shameless Magazine's book launch a few weeks back, which was a wonderful event.

This really is too bad. One of my favourite things in the world to do is to spend an afternoon in a local bookstore, combing the shelves. The sad part is, more and more of these stores are disappearing. I always had positive experiences with the staff at Pages, chatting about books and magazines and local events. Sad to see it go.

Maysie Maysie's picture

This is very sad news for Toronto and independent bookstores in general.

The only good news that I can glean is that since they aren't declaring bankruptcy that this is about how far out the current rents are based on their finances and their older, lower rent.

I have to quote this comment from the torontoist site:

Quote:
 This sucks. I used to go to this bookstore all the time to get ideas for things to download. The physical books were easier to browse than Google.

What.Ever. 

And this one: 

Quote:
 I've thought about Pages' eventual demise every time I bought a book. I would check at Pages and then compare it to Chapters. It was nearly always significantly cheaper at Chapters (like a $30 book at Pages was $20 at Chapters). As a poor grad student who needs many books, I tried but couldn't force myself to spend the extra money to support this local bookstore. Of course it wasn't my book-buying that put them under, but I often wonder how many others couldn't afford the premium to support the local bookstore.

So, 15 years after the first Chatpers incursion into Canada, this is now the discourse.

No, doofus, it's not a premium to support a local bookstore. Crapters forces some prices artificially low due to horrendous business practices with their suppliers.

Soon there will be even fewer, and perhaps after than, no more independent bookstores? It's a devastating idea for ideas, writing and books in Canada.

jrose

These artifically low prices don't only affect independent bookstores, but independent publishing companies as well. I work in children's publishing and it's impossible to compete within the trade publishing industry when Indiblow is selling children's hardcovers for $3 each.

Maysie Maysie's picture

I went downtown today, saw a matinee of the new Harry Potter movie at the former Paramount, and we decided to go to Pages after.

It was so sad there. Seeing Pages like this, it broke my heart.

Signs all over saying they're closing, and a sale of course, 10% off all books. Shelves nearly bare, since they sure aren't doing any more ordering. I wanted to say to the guy at the counter how sorry I am, but actually couldn't say it as I knew I would start crying.

Their small press section was unique, and they could have it because of their fabulous space. I don't know any other bookstore that has such a section.

The woman in front of me in line made a joke of "If you want to give me more than 10% off I won't object." It was all I could do to not lecture her on how the book business works, and refrain from strangling her.

So sad.

Wilf Day

jrose wrote:
This might be a good thread to discuss independent bookstores in general. Among my favourites are Octopus Books (Ottawa) and Bryan Prince Bookseller (Hamilton).

Not to be overlooked, one of the best: Furby House Books.

You could drop into the bookstore after coming to Estival on Saturday August 1st. A totally unique event not to be missed. Mike Yap is one of a kind, and we're so lucky to have him.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

What a terrible thing. Hold on to your local independent bookstores, folks, and tell them that you love them. Because they are not long for this world.

Aside from the obvious lie that grad school books are cheaper at Chapters, etc. (did this poster even look at independent bookstores? What were they studying? A post-teenage hermeneutics in Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling?), another pet peeve of mine is the 'poor graduate student' canard. Look: if you can command a $20K+ loan at the drop of a hat, guess what: not poor.

I've recently become enamoured with Bibliophile on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, my new home. But it's a second-hand bookstore which seems to be the only form in which independent bookstores can survive at all these days. Maybe if they added more floors to their building? I don't like to enter a bookstore unless it has at least four floors. That way I know I'm getting the best selection. Of wok sets and bamboo place mats.

NDPP

Their stuff was overpriced but they had things you couldn't get easily elsewhere. Another dead cultural canary in the Canadian coalmine.

Sky Captain Sky Captain's picture

Catchfire wrote:
Aside from the obvious lie that grad school books are cheaper at Chapters, etc. (did this poster even look at independent bookstores? What were they studying? A post-teenage hermeneutics in Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling?), another pet peeve of mine is the 'poor graduate student' canard. Look: if you can command a $20K+ loan at the drop of a hat, guess what: not poor.

s.

Sorry to rain on this pityfest, but Mr. Glassman has other places to move to in Toronto that are not as expensive as Queen & John (a few of which were mentioned by some commenters on the NOW site.) If he gets off his butt and looks for them, he can set up Pages there.

As for the poster's financial situtation: when you are in their shoes, you can speculate about how much a book is as much as you want-until then, please remember this little factoid; If you're going to talk shit, at least get your facts straight.

 

jrootham

Marc is a friend of mine, I ran into his brother scouting possible locations months ago.

Moving costs, it costs up front, it costs in losing customers, both in simple change and in new location draw.  Location matters to booksellers, the Bakka 2nd store they opened on Yonge north of Bloor went bust.  John Rose could keep one store going on Yonge St., the new owners have moved back to Queen St. (west of Bathurst).

Frankly, the transformation of Queen W over the last 30 years is not a socially desirable result.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Sky Captain wrote:
As for the poster's financial situtation: when you are in their shoes, you can speculate about how much a book is as much as you want-until then, please remember this little factoid; If you're going to talk shit, at least get your facts straight.

I'm sorry if I hit a nerve, SC. For the record, I am in their shoes. And I lobby extensively for lower tuition, to protect the eroding grant and funding infrastructure for the arts, and for the value of a humanities education in general. And I don't see how any of that is at odds with my previous post.

jrootham wrote:
Frankly, the transformation of Queen W over the last 30 years is not a socially desirable result.

Absolutely. I think this quote from Glassman on Pages' website is very telling:

Quote:
"When we opened on the corner of Queen and John 30 years ago, it was where artists lived and worked," says proprietor Marc Glassman, who heads up the Queen West Business Improvement Association. "Now our neighbours are CTV, The Gap, and Club Monaco."

Maysie Maysie's picture

Thanks for your comments jrootham and Catchfire.

As a former bookseller I will share that monthly income is based on what is known in terms of sales and projected sales, and a new location would not have knowable/predictable cash flow/income levels for at least a year or two. Despite the facts of name-recognition and that some people would certainly follow Pages wherever it went.

In the past 3 years both Another Story and This Ain't the Rosedale Library moved from longstanding locations to new ones. But the difference is both of their moves were planned, scheduled, budgeted for (including of course some down time for packing, moving and unpacking). Bookstores have such tight finances that this would have had to be planned and researched meticulously beforehand, unless the rent was so much cheaper in the new locations, but still, it's costly. 

Pages has known about the rent increase for a while, and though I don't know Marc personally, I assume he did all the steps to look for new locations.

And Marc is right about the neighbourhood. Friends of mine say they now have no reason to go to that part of Queen Street any longer. 

Sky Captain Sky Captain's picture

Maysie wrote:

Thanks for your comments jrootham and Catchfire.

As a former bookseller I will share that monthly income is based on what is known in terms of sales and projected sales, and a new location would not have knowable/predictable cash flow/income levels for at least a year or two. Despite the facts of name-recognition and that some people would certainly follow Pages wherever it went.

In the past 3 years both Another Story and This Ain't the Rosedale Library moved from longstanding locations to new ones. But the difference is both of their moves were planned, scheduled, budgeted for (including of course some down time for packing, moving and unpacking). Bookstores have such tight finances that this would have had to be planned and researched meticulously beforehand, unless the rent was so much cheaper in the new locations, but still, it's costly. 

Pages has known about the rent increase for a while, and though I don't know Marc personally, I assume he did all the steps to look for new locations.

And Marc is right about the neighbourhood. Friends of mine say they now have no reason to go to that part of Queen Street any longer. 

 

Thanks for the clarification and heads-up, Maysie; I thought that there was some hope for Pages. Now I know how dire things are, and I apologize again, this time abashdly.

For myself, I'll still be going to Queen & John, mostly to go to the movies at the Scotiabank Theater and also to get stuff at the Silver Snail, but I won't really enjoy it though, because of what's happening. As I said before someplace else, I wish that the recession could have destroyed the housing/building/rental industry, but that won't be happening, it seems, at least not in Toronto.

I will make an effort to go to Pages and pick up a book or a magazine sometime this Friday or Saturday, just as a tribute to them.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Just to be clear, Pages is closing. They have not declared bankruptcy, like many other independent booksellers in Canada have done in the years since the Crapters encroachment. My guess is that Glassman simply assessed the financial viability of moving and it came up on the "not so much" side of the ledger. 

 

Weltschmerz

Wilf Day wrote:

Not to be overlooked, one of the best: Furby House Books.

I second that Wilf.  I've become quite the Port Hope fan over the past few years, and Furby House is always one of our stops when we're there.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Just reactivating this because the day is drawing closer.

Frown

Lord Palmerston

It is a big loss.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Quote:

AFTERWORD: A Celebration of 30 Years: To Mark the Closing of Pages Books and Magazines

For the past thirty years, Pages Books & Magazines has been a place where the culturally engaged citizens of Toronto met one another, conspired, fell in love, debated aesthetics and, occasionally, bought books. The Pages Art Window was the site of a landmark censorship case. And the shop helped Proprietor Marc Glassman and former staffer Shaun Smith co-create the popular literary event program, This Is Not A Reading Series (TINARS). Skyrocketing rent, not a drop in sales, has forced Glassman to close the celebrated bookstore at Queen and John streets on August 31.

To mark the occasion, many of the artists and thinkers whose work graced Pages' shelves over the past three decades will deliver short tributes to Glassman and his iconic indie institution, at "Afterword: A Celebration of 30 Years".

Come, raise a glass with such notable friends of Pages as Eldon Garnet, Greg Gatenby, Mark Kingwell, Barbara Klunder, Andy Paterson, Seth and Alana Wilcox - to name but a few. Canadian Comedy Award winners Monkey Toast will be perform improvised comedy based on your stories about Pages. The evening will be structured like a virtual tour of the store, and conclude where it all began thirty years ago: Glassman's office. -

A This Is Not A Reading Series event presented by Coach House Books, Spacing Magazine, Gladstone Hotel, NOW Magazine, and Take Five On CIUT.

Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen St West, Toronto

Tues. Sept 8; 7:30 pm (Doors 7pm) Free.

Pages Books & Magazines / This Is Not A Reading Series

 

jrose

I'm not familiar with this one, but another independent bookstore closes its doors.

 

Vancouver's Duthie Books to shut down after 52 years

conrad yablonski

Long known as 'stuffy books' Duthies expanded to answer the perceived threat from Chapters, then contracted to one store then stagnated.

Questionable buying decisions such as tonnes of children's books in a neighbourhood with relatively few children, high prices when Book Warehouse a block away offered 20% off new bestsellers, whoever was steering the ship just had no clue.

Freedom 55

Caissa wrote:

I loved shopping at Octopus when I lived in ottawa 85-87. It has certainly stood the test of time.

 

Better than most people would have predicted...

[url=http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2012/04/24/opening-a-book-store-in-2012-i... a book store in 2012?[/url]

onlinediscountanvils

Another sad loss... Mother Tongue Books, Ottawa's feminist bookstore, will be closing after 18 years.

[url=http://celebratemothertongue.ca/]Help us wind down the store[/url]

Quote:

We have been blessed to be able to support the ideals, dreams and struggles of others. It is deeply gratifying, and humbling to have been part of our customers’ lives. We have built up a very loyal community – we appreciate you more than you can know!

Still, there are many others who love the “idea” of small, neighbourhood bookshops, and other local businesses, but who no longer shop in them. The scales have tipped in the past 5 or 6 years. The “ideal” life of bookselling is outweighed by financial and emotional exhaustion. In short, we are tired! For us, this little shop no longer translates into a sustainable business model or a way to serve our community. We have other things we need and want to do!

onlinediscountanvils

It's not necessarily closing, but After Stonewall, Ottawa's queer bookstore is [url=http://www.typeq.ca/index.php/community-news/profiles/270-after-stonewal... up for sale[/url].

onlinediscountanvils

Cry

[url=http://womensbookstore.com/uncategorized/end-of-an-era-important-message... of an Era – Important Message to the TWB Community[/url]

Quote:
It is with a mix of sadness and resignation that I inform you all that The Toronto Women’s Bookstore (TWB) will be closing on Friday, November 30th.

Sven Sven's picture

This is just another indication that the paper book is dying a slow death.

Caissa

I have thousands of them in my house that are alive and well. Some I would like to give to a good home. They are all spayed and neutered. Wink 

Good to see you Sven.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Well, shit.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Actually Catchfire I doubt if using them for toilet paper would constitute going to a good home.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Cry

Sven Sven's picture

Caissa wrote:

I have thousands of them in my house that are alive and well. Some I would like to give to a good home. They are all spayed and neutered. Wink 

Good to see you Sven.

Good to "see" you, too, Caissa! Wink

I love books.  I particularly enjoy the smell and feel of old books.

But paper books and paper-book stores will go the way of livery stables.  It's just the way things go.  Times changes.  Habits change.  Interests change.

For someone my age, email is still a pretty remarkable tool.  I use it for work and for pleasure every day.  But, my young nieces and nephews?  They rarely use email.  When I send them an email, I'll send them a text to let them know I've sent them an email...otherwise, they may not see my email message for days or weeks...if at all.

Email doesn't have the long and glorious history of books...but its decline as a medium of communication is somewhat illustrative.  Times change.  Ways of communicating change.

Paper books are not immune to those changes.

Oh, there will still be "craft books" produced long into the future.  But, within a couple of generations, the paper book will be dead as a principle medium for reading.  And, with the death of paper books will come the death of paper-book stores.

Unionist

I'm not entirely certain as to why we should lament the closure of bookstores any more than (say) VHS or DVD rental outlets.

If people were reading less, I'd be worried. I see no evidence of that.

I've known progressive bookstores which were places to gather, socialize, connect, and organize. But the books never had all that much to do with it. I think we could use places to meet. As for me, I'm gradually getting rid of all my books (over a thousand gone in recent times), except for rare beauties or sentimental keepsakes. My $59 ereader, along with a cheap memory card of a few GB, holds far more than my modest living quarters could ever bear.

ETA: Speaking of inexpensive, and not involving chopping down trees so that humans can enjoy the "touch and smell" of paper and glue:

[url=http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/10/13-e-reader-cheaper-than-some-e-b...$13 E-Reader Could Be Your Next Smartphone Accessory[/url]

ETA squared: When I was a kid (and teenager), I couldn't even think about affording to buy a book, other than at Goodwill or Patriotic Salvage (google them, you youngsters...). So 95% of my reading was of borrowed library books. Even if we favour paper books, why do we need to own them? Why can't they be shared? Perhaps, for as long as trees continue to be sacrificed, we need more libraries and fewer bookstores.

 

Bacchus

The E reader on my smartphone (free download) rivals anything I could buy strictly for reading (I even have the program on my tablet and mp3 player)

Maysie Maysie's picture
Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

I was watching Take This Waltz Sarah Polley's new movie that was filmed in Toronto, and her main character walks around with a Pages bag. Was awesome, then all too sad. 

onlinediscountanvils

onlinediscountanvils wrote:
It's not necessarily closing, but After Stonewall, Ottawa's queer bookstore is [url=http://www.typeq.ca/index.php/community-news/profiles/270-after-stonewal... up for sale[/url].

Good news! it's been bought, and will be staying open.

http://www.xtra.ca/public/Ottawa/After_Stonewalls_new_chapter-12986.aspx

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Collateral damage: Spartacus Books fight against Vancouver's incessant gentrification

It's election day in B.C., an electoral bout that has seemingly come down to, yet again, voting for the perceived lesser evil and trying to get some change a-brewing.

In this case, it seems like there is a hard push among the progressively minded to first and foremost get the Liberals out by means of putting the NDP in. As many have noted though, the NDP are not a cure all solution for what ails BC, particularly in the housing crises and ramped gentrification of Vancouver and the DTES area, but it begs the question: So, what is going on in Vancouver?

Vancouver is seeing an increased attack on independent arts and culture outlets in the city and though electoral voting can lessen an immediate danger, it unfortunately is not the magic solution nor can it foster the change necessary for a city to start believing in and supporting its citizens and local independent businesses.

 

Spartacus Books undoubtedly provides a social space for community organizing and engagement as well as a climate of alternative media and books that is being swept away in the larger trend of Canadian independent bookstores. So what do they do -- do they fight, can they fight and will this fight do anything?

Spartacus Books is choosing to fight and they're making that fight public.

They've issued a request on their Facebook page to help "support your local radical book store" and "help us stay alive" and an eviction announcement on their website to spread awareness of the ongoing gentrification of Vancouver and to help them out in their cause.  "We want Spartacus Books to still exist three months from now, so our immediate concern is to cover the costs of moving to a new location and books sales and donations are the best way to do that."

With moving the only viable and logical option, Jeff continues "We are actively looking for a new space. Rent is obviously a big concern -- most bookstores struggle to get by these days, and rent in Vancouver is ridiculously high. We are definitely planning to find a new home and keep on doing what we do. We have free computers and internet, a free public phone that's available 24 hours a day and we're an open and inclusive space for everyone. That's something that our friends and neighbours value about us. If we have to leave the neighbourhood there will be one less public space for people in the DTES."

Oh look, it's babble's own (and rabble.ca Books Ed.) Kaitlin McNabb!

 

 

Bacchus

Long live the independants. I make it a point to try and regularly buy something from the independants but sadly today that means Bakka, the Used bookstores and Book city.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Yes, it has become really hard to even find independents anymore, and then independents that are able to sell books they want.

Octopus Books always springs to mind, as well as Spartacus and People's Coop -- they are able to exist selling the books they want to sell.

I live down the street from Politics and Prose (and a library!) so I feel spoiled in that regard.

Bacchus

Im blessed with 3 libraries near me but cursed with no bookstores or even used ones near me.  So many gone now.

 

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

WHOA

Spartacus Books is reporting on their twitter and facebook that they are no longer being renovicted and their lease has been reinstated! 

Kerry Grant (the asset manager for AARTI Investments which now owns our building) came into the store today to tell us that our lease is being reinstated, and we're NOT being EVICTED!

He specifically mentioned that they weren't expecting such a fuss and were just looking to run a "nice place". He also asked us to take the "IS BEING RENOVICTED" banner down... i wonder if our neighbor, Dan's Homebrewing Supplies, would like to borrow it now? ;)

In any case, thank you for all your support! The online articles and outcry from the community has certainly helped, and the Spartacus collective deeply appreciates all the love we've been receiving since the bad news broke out.

Gentrification continues in the DTES and people are still being displaced, but our resistance has (temporarily) stalled these developers from having their way! Keep fighting capitalism, and hope to see you at our upcoming 40th anniversary celebrations! 

This is unbelievable! And warms my heart a bit for Canadian bookstores and Vancouver not being a total asshole of a city.

Obviously, a small step, but still, yay! Social outcry did something!

onlinediscountanvils

Thanks for sharing the great news, Kaitlin!

Bacchus

Awesome!!!

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

I wonder what "we were just looking to run a 'nice place'" means...

REOPENINGS FOR ALL THE BOOK STORES!

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Here is a follow up with Spartacus Books on their uneviction and what it all means: Gentrification Interrupted: Spartacus Books' miraculous 'renoviction' survival