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Bookshop Spotlight: Toronto's TYPE Books

Type Books Exterior

Earlier this month, Toronto's TYPE Books was named Magazines Canada's Retailer of the Year for 2014. It's just the latest success for this nearly decade-old shop that only seems to be getting better and better with time. They're a beautiful and inspiring space, as well as an excellent books retailer, home to community events, and creator of window displays that are the stuff of legend. Oh, and they've been a film set—twice.

We were lucky to have a chat with TYPE owner Joanne Saul to learn more about the shop and how the magic happens. 


49th Shelf: I remember my first visit to TYPE Books in 2006—the damask wallpaper made a huge impression. (I also remember celebrating your first birthday with a cake shaped like a typewriter—did that really happen?) What has changed since the store opened? What has stayed the same?

Type Books Inside

Joanne Saul: It did happen! That was quite a cake. We started TYPE with a mandate to root ourselves deeply in the communities that we service. This hasn't changed (neither has the damask wallpaper!). In fact, we've been able to grow …

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Shelf Talkers for May 2014

When you’re considering adjectives to describe Canada’s independent booksellers, “eclectic” has to be near the top of the list. And this month’s installment of Shelf Talkers reflects that, with cookbooks, kids books, fiction and fantasy and more from booksellers from across the country.


The Bookseller: Chadwick Ginther from University of Manitoba Bookstore, Winnipeg, Manitoba

The Pick: This Strange Way of Dying, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

"There is plenty to enjoy in This Strange Way of Dying, not just for the gourmet of death, but for anyone who loves a good story, even for those ready to dismiss horror fiction as 'butcher’s work.' If you hunger as Moreno-Garcia’s 'Death Collector' does 'for the delicious, the delicate, the more refined crimes rather than clumsy trails of corpses,' then you will devour them in each wonderful story."



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Shelf Talkers for April 2014: A New Series by Robert J. Wiersema


To paraphrase an old cliché: you can find any book online; you need a bookseller to find the right one.

One of the great joys of life as a bookseller is the relationships you build with readers in your community. These people are more than customers, something different from friends ... you share with them the intimate bond that develops between fellow travellers: you are readers, together.

And there are no more devoted readers than booksellers.

Every hour of every day in bookstores across this fine land, booksellers are handing their fellow readers new books with the simple, trusted entreaty: “Read this.”

And today—in the first installment of a new monthly series I'm doing for 49th Shelf, Shelf Talkers—we have five of this country’s finest booksellers pressing their picks on you.

Please follow the links through to explore some of your favourite independent booksellers, local and nationwide. And if you’re an independent bookseller with a book to recommend, please email me: rjwiersema at gmail dot com.



The Bookseller: Lindsay Williams from …

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Other People's Books: Guest Post by Tamas Dobozy


The thing I love about independent bookstores is how much is missing. They don’t have room for stacks and stacks of the latest iteration of The Lovely Bones. (Is there anything as disheartening as seeing the name Sebold beside the name Sebald on the shelves of a bookstore? Of course, peopled always have to get past Dobozy to get to Doctorow, so maybe I shouldn’t talk.) What they do have room for, just barely, is the distillation of a certain taste in reading, a canon of novels and poems and plays and essays peculiar to whoever runs the store, whatever he or she thinks is a worthwhile continuum of titles and authors and subjects. I’ve always loved that, in whatever city or town I am, coming upon an independent bookstore (and there are less of them than ever) and being treated to someone else’s mind, to a series of books more often based on quality and sensibility, rather than the quantity-driven ethos (by which I mean whatever deals have been made with various publishers as to how many books will be ordered, where they’ll be placed in the store, how long marketing demographics have determined they should stay on the shelves) that you get in the big chains, whose similarity from city to city, even country to country, manages to be bewildering and depressi …

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"I’ll take the long road and a ballpoint any day": Guest Post by Anne Perdue


This week's guest post is by Anne Perdue who writes about the promotional book tour as a voyage of self-discovery. Anne Perdue is author of I'm a Registered Nurse Not a Whore, and you can read more about her book tour on the Let's See How Far This Car Can Go Blog.

When Insomniac Press offered to publish I’m a Registered Nurse Not a Whore, I was ecstatic. But it was also a time of profound sorrow and loss, as my mom had passed away in Vancouver four days prior. Amidst the bitter sweetness an idea came to me. I would celebrate my book and share it with my mom by driving her ’89 Mustang across the country. On an old-fashioned road trip book tour. And if the old car broke down on the Coquihalla, well that’d be as far as the tour would go. It seemed like a great idea until I realized I had no concept of how to venture forth on a book tour.

I decided to begin with something concrete, or rather asphaltic, namely roads. Using CAA triptiks I determined routes and travel times. Using the Canadian Booksellers Association website I researched bookstores. I placed calls, sent emails, wrote press releases, made more phone calls and plotted my trip, all the while imagining the stunning drive and the interesting conversations I’d have with readers, writers, strangers … A …

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Kidsbooks' Owner Phyllis Simon on Matching Children Up With the Right Books

Visiting a good children’s bookstore, especially but not only when you have kids of your own, is an instant mood booster and occasion for awe. A combination of impressive stock, ingenious store layout including play/explore areas for kids, and friendly, knowledgeable staff can make such a bookstore a favourite family destination for years—a local and cultural institution.

Vancouver is lucky enough to have Kidsbooks, which former librarian Phyllis Simon opened in 1983 in Kitsilano, and which now includes three locations, an online storefront, and a co-partner, Kelly McKinnon.


Kidsbooks' lounge area (Kitsilano location)

Kidsbooks is famous for its incredible, elaborate window displays (people still talk about their “Hogwarts” storefront façade that celebrated the release of the fourth HP book) and insightful staff experts who specialize in tracking down exactly the right book for a particular child. This discovery and selection service is an amazingly important service when you consider how one book—or a suite of books—can turn a child onto reading forever, and conversely, how not finding the right reading materials can convince them that they’d rather sleep in an outhouse than curl up with a book.

Canadian Bookshelf asked Kidsbooks’ Phyllis Simon a li …

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