Sad news last week. Our beloved neighbourhood bookstore, The Book Mark, is being forced to close. The oldest remaining independent bookstore in Toronto will cease to do business at the end of January after 47 years in the west end Kingsway area.
In spite of the competition from the large-scale chains and online retailers, The Book Mark was managing to hold on and continue offering the personal, informed service readers truly appreciate. Loyal customers showed their appreciation through four decades, often one generation following another.
With a quiet but inviting and warm atmosphere, this is a store staffed with intelligent, avid readers who know the books they sell. There was always someone who could answer your questions and provide reliable advice. You don’t find that too often any more. Sue Houghting, her assistant manager Sarah Pietrosky, and their incredibly personable staff will be missed .
I am personally enormously grateful to The Book Mark. When my debut novel, The Bridge Club, was first published in the fall of 2010. I took a deep breath and asked if they would consider putting it on their shelf. Unfailingly polite, they offered to have some of their staff read it and get back to me. I was
so pleased unbelievably thrilled and excited … no kidding … when they called to ask me to bring in a supply. For the past 14 months they have restocked The Bridge Club on a regular basis and sold more copies than any of us had imagined. I can’t thank The Book Mark enough for their vote of confidence in my writing and the enthusiastic support they have consistently offered.
It was heartbreaking to drop by the shop to say thank you and farewell. A constant flow of customers has been expressing sadness and frustration with the situation and gratitude for all the years this was a special shop to visit.
Oh, and the reason they are closing? The city taxes are bad enough but their landlord is asking for a 26% rent increase! Ask me who is one very unpopular person in the Toronto area right now? I have just made a note of the name I will use for the next villain I create in my writing.
Now let’s temper this bitter local news with some sweetness from Walk Off The Earth, local (well, Burlington, Ontario is just outside Toronto) musicians whose AWE-mazing video has been viewed by over
four million – OMG, now it’s almost nine million! – just this week and rocketed them into the kind of visibility they deserve.
Check out their Facebook page where they have posted this message which might well apply to indie writers too. WE CAN RELATE!
“To all the independent musicians out there. I hope this shows that you can make a name for your band with no help from record labels and management and next to no money. Stay true to your dreams and your passions, whether they be music related or not. Don’t wait for people to help you because they never will. The only time the music industry will want to help you is when you have done all the work yourself!”
Way to go Walk Off The Earth! Here’s to continued success!
Are you still fortunate to have an indie bookstore near you? As much as e-books are a big part of authors’ lives these days, bookstores still provide a special service and I am sad to see them close. How do you feel about this? Many say it is inevitable and part of the changing times in which we live.
And then … how about Walk Off The Earth’s video? Cool or what?