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Book City Annex location to close after 38 years

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.

  • Francoise Vulpe

    This is heartbreaking, such a loss. And a sign of our increasingly mindless times. In an interview on CBC this a.m., Donker described how he would see people come in to look at books and then buy from Amazon (right, we knew
    that) but, he went on, some “browsers” would scan the barcode right in the store and place the order on their smartphone. Disgusting. How is that different than
    going into a restaurant kitchen and helping yourself to a steak? Or behind the
    bar for a bottle? Or….

    And I expect such people call themselves book lovers.

  • Robin Collins

    There’s got to be a better reason to spend the extra dollars, and to avoid ordering from amazon online…. a better reason than our sentimental appreciation for small bookstores trying to make it. Most people like me probably have many books piled high to read. There is not a great need to buy that book now at the store, but we do appreciate being able to look at the book, “live”, to decide if we want it. Browse and buy later — I do this at Chapters and then buy at Amazon. The old small bookstore model doesn’t work any more in most cases, although I do buy at bookstores when out of town for some reason. The local shop can’t hold a large enough inventory to beat the mega online stores, and the pricing, even with shipping, offered by amazon means it will win. If the solution was simple, we’d know what it was. Does Chapters/Indigo still sell books?; it can be hard to tell until you look past all those home furnishings. Stop complaining about people buying from amazon; find the solution that will work. Book launches, book signings, cafes are part of the answer but they don’t sell a lot of books either.

  • noahvolek

    Well the correct analogy would be going to a restaurant, seeing something you like on the menu, and then choosing to place an order for delivery from one of those factory food eateries like Boston Pizza.

    People often forget that the retail books industry is a sales business, and no longer are small bookstores the gatekeepers to literature for the readers who are no longer a captive audience. I work in a bookstore and have to WORK TO SELL BOOKS.

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