The demise of the independent bookstore?

Tara e-mailed about the sad demise of Duthie’s, a Vancouver legend in the independent bookstore business. Press release is at

Over the 10 years I’ve been a librarian, and the 15 or so I’ve lived in Vancouver, I’ve seen independent bookstore after independent bookstore close down. From generalists like Duthie’s, to specialists like Women in Print, year after year sees less diversity and choice in the bookstores in our town. As an on-the-side small publisher, I see similar stories in cities across North America. It seems like it’s no longer viable to run a bookstore unless you’re a mega-chain.

The demise of independent bookstores hurts the diversity of the materials we have available to read. The loss of independent booksellers means the loss of decades of cumulative experience in the book trade, of a vast knowledge of publishing, and writers, and readers. In the world of books and readers, there needs to be a better link between booksellers and librarians.

But it’s more than that. This is one of the rare times where librarians have some kind of economic leverage. Our buying power could support local independent bookstores with targeted purchases tailored to the needs of our patrons. It infuriates me that we buy from large publishers’ catalogues rather than from local bookstores. It drives me crazy that we ignore the wealth of expertise on our doorsteps, and turn instead to the easy option, the option that gives us a little bit more of a discount at the expense of diversity in our collections. It makes me angry that when I shop at local bookstores as a librarian, I’m an anomaly, often the only librarian buying from that bookstore.

As Tara mentioned, People’s Co-op Bookstore, my absolute favourite Vancouver bookstore, is celebrating 65 years in business with a fundraiser this Friday, January 22, 8pm at the WISE Hall. See
For a list of other local bookstores, see

Go shopping!



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