books on the radio

Donate to Help Save Toronto’s This Ain’t the Rosedale Library

Charlie Huisken of This Saint the Rosedale Library. Photo by John Elmslie.

The call has gone out that another friend of books, writers, creativity & independent presses needs our help.

This Ain’t the Rosedale Library, legendary Toronto bookstore and nucleus for the writing community in that city is in danger of closing its doors and adding to the recent litany of closures of great Canadian bookstores.

The community of friends, book lovers and patrons of the store have rallied in support and the owners, Charlie and Jesse Huisken, have worked hard to put themselves in a position to receive donations to keep the doors open while a workable solution is developed to ensure that the store is viable going forward.

I would like to submit to my friends out here in BC and to everyone east and north – and even outside of Canada – that this is not a regional thing. This is not something that we can leave to the community in Toronto and environs.

It is no secret that with the recent closures of Duthie Books and Sophia Books here in Vancouver that there was much gnashing of teeth over the unjust fate of independent bookstores in the modern age.

In those cases there was no second chance, no opportunity for the community to really come together and to put some money behind their words to save a store from oblivion.

We have that chance with This Ain’t.

Please donate what you can to the paypal account set up for the store so that next time you’re in Toronto you can walk through the door of This Ain’t the Rosedale Library and tell Charlie & Jesse how amazing their store is and how happy you were to donate in this crucial moment to keep the store open.

I guarantee that you’ll have made a friend for life.

Here’s how the situation is described on This Ain’t’s website:

Our situation, which could be told as a long story about the plight of bookstores in Toronto and in many North American cities, is really quite a simple one. At our new location in Kensington Market we found a space with lower rent and overheads which thus represented an enticing solution to the difficulty of inflated rents facing many stores of our kind. For a year we worked in this space happily, until the recession hit with full force and we began to fall behind with our rent. Our response to this situation was similar to that of any small retail business. We bought shrewdly, held regular events, did book tables for small press launches, conferences and author appearances, did not invest in advertising, fixtures, signage or renovations, kept only minimal staff (the store has one part-time staff person), and most importantly worked full-time or more with long store hours, while drawing the absolute minimum for our own rent and expenses. In this way we were able, albeit very gradually, to pay our back-rent, and maintain an amicable relationship with out landlord. While the space presented a number of challenges, including our basement flooding whenever there was heavy rain, and though we heard many stories of rent reductions in our own neighborhood we were not offered this option, but continued none-the-less to enjoy working at the store and feel inspired by our customers’ enthusiasm for the books that we were selling. Quite suddenly this changed. Our landlord became impatient with the rate at which we were able to pay her and made demands for large repayments, without providing a precise accounting of what was owing. In light of our workload and the proliferation of other causes in this city, a fundraiser remained only an idea. Instead we responded to these unrealistic demands with an informal proposal which would not have been profitable to us, but to our landlord. We received only further demands which we attempted to meet within our resources until the locks were changed on Friday June 19th. We are once again offering our landlord a choice which would be beneficial to her and allow us to re-open our doors, and are hoping that the outpouring of encouragement from the public might influence our situation. Along with this we are seeking help with organizing a fundraiser, and we are accepting PayPal donations. As we were living day-to-day, as many small business owners do for years after opening or relocating, our own livelihood has been erased, and our present situation is very uncertain. None-the-less we have seen that many people value what we do and are eager to help us, and thus remain hopeful that a resolution is around the corner.


Goodbye, Sophia Books! Vancouver Loses Another Independent
April 26, 2010, 4:07 PM
Filed under: Bookstore Showcase, Events, Industry Change | Tags: , ,

The legendary Sophia Books front window with reflection of the street.

My friends at Sophia Books are closing the doors on their amazing store in downtown Vancouver at then end of May 2010.

I have nothing but love and respect for Marc and Yuki Fournier, and all of my friends who work there.

It’s another heartbreaker for book lovers in Vancouver as Sophia represented the best and most unique selection of international art, graphic design, comix, fiction, non-fiction, manga and magazines not only in the city, the province – pretty much anywhere.

I went down there today and took as many pictures as I could of the store before my battery ran out.  Check out the Flickr Photo Stream or my Facebook photo album for more.

If you’re in Vancouver please go down to the store and check out this treasure of Vancouver’s disappearing book store culture while you can.

Sophia Books Spring MEGA Sale is Happening Now!
We are having a Mega Spring Sale !
30% off all books in stock !
(special orders, magazines and DVDs not included)
April 1st to 17th. In store shopping only.
(please note that we are closed on Easter day, April 4th)

French books, Spanish books, Italian books, German Books,
Japanese books, ESL books, Graphic design etc

Please pass along to friends that might be interested.


Grands Soldes du Printemps
30% de remise sur tous les livres en stock
(à l’exception des commandes spéciales, des DVD et des magazines)
Achats en personne seulement
Les soldes débutent le 1er avril et se termineront le 17 avril.
(veuillez noter que nous sommes fermés le jours de Paques, le 4 avril)

Livres en français, en espagnol, en italien, en allemand,
en japonais, ALS, arts visuels etc.
Faites passer le mot à ceux et celles qui pourraient être interessés .

Thomas Gammarino: Reading Big in Japan at Sophia Books

Click here to listen to Tom read from his debut novel Big in Japan at Sophia Books.

Great audio recording of Thomas Gammarino, author of Big in Japan: A Ghost Story, published by Chin Music Press, reading at Vancouver’s Sophia Books in mid-January.

Buy Big in Japan.

Great crowd, excellent story, it was lots of fun.

The entire Chin Music Crew came up from Seattle to support the event.

There was a full room, delicious sushi and sake and everyone trooped off for further food and drinks afterward.

An awesome reading with a great introduction by Sophia Books owner and resident maestro, Marc Fournier.

If you haven’t seen any Chin Music Press books please take a look at their website and if you live in a neighborhood with a good independent bookstore that knows their stuff, ask them if they have any Chin Music books.

Stay tuned for the Books on the Radio interviews with Tom, Bruce and Jennifer later this spring.

Sophia Books: Independent Bookstore Showcase #1

One of the features of the new Books on the Radio blog will be the Independent Bookstore Showcase.

This will be a chance to celebrate great indie bookstores and the people who make them so amazing.

Our first stop will be Sophia Books, the best independent bookstore in downtown Vancouver and one of the best in Canada.  Stay tuned!

Girl at Sophia Books