It’s been a tough year for Toronto booksellers, with the shuttering of the World’s Biggest Bookstore, Runnymede Chapters, and the Annex location of the Book City mini-chain. Now comes word that The Cookbook Store is closing after 31 years in business. A closing sale begins Feb. 22.
In October, owner Josh Josephson and long-time manager Alison Fryer announced that the bookstore’s Yonge Street building was being sold to a condo developer, but that they were considering “a number of options to relocate the store.”
In a statement released today, they report, “We have considered new locations but after much searching it has not proven feasible at this time.” The statement cites year-long road and utilities construction, extreme weather, and online competition as having a “devastating impact on our sales.”
Over the years, the store hosted many high-profile events and signings, bringing in international stars such as Martha Stewart, Julia Child, and Anthony Bourdain. Fryer also cultivated close relationships with many Canadian chefs, authors, and publishers.
In an April 2013 interview with Q&Q, Appetite by Random House head Robert McCullough praised the staff’s ability to hand-sell niche titles and for their specialized knowledge of the category. “They are able to help us to identify trends and upcoming authors,” he said.
During yesterday’s federal budget announcement, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduced legislation intended to reduce the gap between Canadian and U.S. retail prices.
The legislation will not result in immediate price reductions for books, but it does give the Competition Bureau power to investigate price discrepancies that aren’t the result of higher operating costs in Canada.
In February 2013, a Senate report on consumer price gaps examined the publishing industry. One of its four concluding recommendations is that Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore should study the effects of “reducing the 10 per cent markup that Canadian exclusive distributors can add to the U.S. list price of American books imported into Canada, adjusted for the exchange rate.”
Discount books will give way to multi-level patios and 40-foot-high ceilings when Toronto’s World’s Biggest Bookstore is transformed into a restaurant row.
The Toronto Star reports that the new property owner, Lifetime Developments, is planning for the 64,000-square-foot downtown site to be ready in time for the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Turner Fleischer Architects has been brought on to design the building, which will accommodate up to four restaurants. Check out the marketing plans for 20 Edward Street here.
The lease on the bookstore was not renewed by owner Indigo Books & Music, which is also closing its Chapters Runnymede store on Feb. 16.
In a statement released today, the Association of American Publishers is singling out Canadian copyright law for greater scrutiny. Drawing attention to 2012’s Copyright Modernization Act, the AAP is expressing particular concern about the lack of parameters around the “education” purpose added to fair dealing exceptions for the reproduction of copyright-protected materials in Canadian schools and postsecondary institutions.
AAP president and CEO Tom Allen says the act has had a damaging effect on the value of books and journals published in the U.S. “We are urging Canada to officially clarify the scope of its new policies so they align with established international laws, ensure fair compensation to copyright owners in legitimate markets and continue Canada’s access to rich educational content,” he says.
The statement follows a special report submitted to the U.S. Trade Representative by the International Intellectual Property Alliance, a coalition representing U.S. copyright-based industries. The report calls on the USTR to place Canada on an 18-country U.S. government watch list that monitors intellectual property rights abroad.
According to the AAP, the defection of Canadian schools from Access Copyright’s content-licensing agreements is resulting in a decrease in direct sales of educational materials. Last month, The Writers’ Union of Canada staged a demonstration outside the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library responding to the school’s decision to opt out of Access Copyright licences.
The AAP also expressed concerns about online piracy of scholarly journals and the unauthorized sharing and trafficking of documents through bitcoin systems in China.
After 18 years in business, lefty Winnipeg café and alternative bookstore Mondragón will close on Jan. 26.
Currently run by a collective of five members, the shop was named after a Basque town in northern Spain known for its worker-owned co-operatives.
Mondragón customer Paul Graham told CBC that the loss of the store will be difficult. “It’s a place where over the almost 20 years, people have come together for book launches, meetings and socials – one of those places that really doesn’t have a counterpart in Winnipeg.”
In an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press, Mondragón representative Cora Wiens said, “We’ve had a rough year, a rough couple of years, financially. I think a lot of people are really sad about it and are now realizing what this place has meant.”
Toronto independent mini-chain Book City announced Thursday afternoon it will be closing its flagship location in the Annex this spring after 38 years in business.
“The lease was up and we agonized over the decision, but sadly it didn’t make much economic sense to continue,” says general manager Ian Donker, son of founder Frans Donker.
Donker says a variety of factors led to the decision to close the Annex location, with a looming lease renewal prompting them to pull the trigger. “You name it and it has chipped away at the Annex location. It’s an evolving, changing neighbourhood like every other neighbourhood in Toronto,” he says. “Rent goes up every single year. Sales have slipped for a number of years, through no fault of the staff or our efforts.”
The Annex location employs “close to 14 staff members,” all of whom will be out of a job, according to Donker. Following the closure of other locations in the past, some staffers have been transferred, but Donker says it will not be possible this time. Among the staff being let go is manager John Snyder, who was the second hire at Book City in 1976.
Book City’s three other locations – on the Danforth, at Yonge and St. Clair, and in the Beach – will remain open, albeit with shorter winter hours still in effect. Donker says they have not ruled out the possibility of opening a new location elsewhere in the city should an opportunity present itself.
“[Our] other stores have been strong and maintained their sales, and sadly the Annex is one that slipped,” says Donker.
There were plenty of cheers on Oct. 10 when Alice Munro became the first Canadian resident (and the 13th woman) to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. But did the excitement translate to actual book sales?
BookNet Canada wanted to determine if there was a Nobel effect on book buying. The non-profit agency partnered with Nielsen Book to analyze sales in 10 countries, including Spain, India, South Africa, and Australia. The report covers an eight-week period, from the week ending Sept. 21 through to Nov. 10, and includes all of Munro’s available in-print titles (hardcover and paperback only) in both English and in translation.
Here are some of the report highlights:
- There was a Canadian sales increase of 4,424 per cent between the weeks of Sept. 21 and Oct. 19
- The week of the win had the highest increase, from 94 units to 6,345 units (translates to a rise of 6,650 per cent) nationwide
- Out of all the countries surveyed, the U.S. saw the biggest spike, increasing from around 3,000 units to more than 32,600 units the week ending Nov. 2
- In comparison with the Nobel and other honours, Canada Reads still comes out on top with a 4,465 per cent sales increase from the time when the shortlist is revealed to when the winner is announced
BookNet Canada concludes the report by stating it would like to send Munro “a virtual high five and a bear hug.”
It was crowd control for Major Tom when Commander Chris Hadfield appeared at Victoria’s Bolen Books on Nov. 16.
According to store manager Colin Holt, the event was one of the best-attended in the bookstore’s history. Holt estimates 1,400 Hadfield enthusiasts lined up for the three-hour book signing, arriving as early as 6 a.m. for a chance to meet the retired astronaut.
Hadfield’s book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth (Random House Canada), is currently in second position on BookNet Canada’s non-fiction hardcover bestsellers list, right behind Bobby Orr’s memoir, Orr (Viking Canada).
Two weeks after its 33rd birthday comes word that the World’s Biggest Bookstore in downtown Toronto will close in February.
According to the Toronto Star, the development company that is in the process of buying the property has no immediate plans for the space.
In June 2012, Q&Q reported that the lease on the 64,000-square-foot iconic bookstore, currently held by Indigo Books and Music, would not be renewed.
Earlier this month, Indigo announced it was closing its flagship Chapters store at Bloor Street West and Runnymede Road. The building, which previously housed a historic movie theatre, is slated to become a Shoppers Drug Mart.
The Toronto Chapters location that moved into the old Runnymede Theatre 14 years ago is set to shut its doors in the new year.
A spokesperson told the CBC that the store will not renew its lease on the property at the corner of Bloor Street West and Runnymede Road, which is rumoured to become a Shoppers Drug Mart.
From the Toronto Star:
“It’s a great store that’s served the neighbourhood incredibly well,” said Drew McGowen, vice-president of real estate and development at Chapters Indigo. “We’re at the end of our lease and the landlord can get far, far more money than we are able to pay.”
Since the store opened in November, 1999, Toronto’s commercial and housing real estate market has experienced “such a boom,” McGowen said. Chapters must vacate the premises by March 31, however McGowen could not confirm when the store would be closed to the public.
Though there was initially some local opposition to the store’s arrival, some community members are indicating that they may now fight to keep it open.
The building, constructed in 1927, will have its exterior kept intact in accordance with its historic designation.