And as of tomorrow, another Toronto institution will be gone for good. Despite it’s prime location at The Centre of the Known UniverseTM, the World’s Biggest Bookstore didn’t quite live up to its billing–I’ve been to Powell’s Books in Portland, and that place was an entire city block. Nevertheless, the WBB was to books what Sam the Record Man, which used to be around the corner, was to music. And now neither of them are a thing anymore.
Of course, this shuttering didn’t happen overnight. Word had been out for months that the place would be shutting down shortly–in fact, their closing sale was extended until this weekend. By the time I got there on Saturday, the shelves were pretty barren, and everything that remained was marked down 50 to 75 per cent. Which isn’t to say there weren’t still some good finds:
As you can see, I’m mostly interested in non-fiction, although I was somewhat intrigued by Revenge of the Lobster Lover, a crime novel set on Prince Edward Island. I also picked up a French translation of Philip Kerr’s Berlin Trilogy, cuz I don’t read enough in French anymore. And while there was still a massive overabundance of Chris Hadfield’s autobiography as of yesterday, I couldn’t find a single copy of the Rob Ford book written by that Toronto Star reporter. I guess they were all sold out!
It was good to find a deeply discounted copy of League of Denial, a concussion study that sent ripples through the NFL last season. I’ll probably tackle that one first. And having read Ozzy’s first book, I expect Dr. Ozzy to be hilarious. Plus, I didn’t even know someone had written a book about the CFL’s U.S. expansion. I suspect that one had been sitting on the shelves for a while. Still remember when Baltimore beat the Stamps to win the Grey Cup. That was awkward…
Alas, I probably don’t have as many memories of World’s Biggest as most members of the 10-book buyers club. (There were a few folks who said they were making their third trip since the sell-off started.) Didn’t go there very much when I first moved to the city, as reading wasn’t much fun–and I didn’t have much funds–when I was in university. But I did used to work across the street, and around the holiday season, they’d sell off some of their most discounted stock in the food court of my building. Y’know, stuff with torn covers, or books from a couple years ago that were no longer best-sellers. Picked up a lot of good reads for dirt cheap that way, but I don’t remember actually setting foot in the store until a little later.
And man, when I did go, it often seemed like there were more employees than customers in a space the size of a bowling alley. (Fun fact: it actually used to be a bowling alley before Coles bought the building in the 80’s.) While this did lead to better service than you’d get at the overcrowded Indigo in the Eaton’s Centre, I often left wondering how this place could afford to keep the lights on. Especially since it was also owned by Indigo, which had bought Chapters, which had bought Coles. Isn’t consolidation fun?
Mind you, when I moved to Bay and Dundas a little less than a year ago, I found myself going to the World’s Biggest over Indigo when I wanted to buy a book. One wasn’t really much closer than the other, although I appreciated not having to deal with the Eaton Centre crowds. More than anything, I could usually find what I was looking for there in a matter of minutes, whereas I still get lost in the Eaton Centre Indigo sometimes.
That said, having missed its glory years, I can’t say I’ll really mourn the place. Thanks to the closing sale, I’ve got enough new reading materials to last me the rest of the year–or at least until the end of summer–and if I need any new books, I’ll just head over to Indigo. I mean, it’s pretty much the same selection at the same price, anyways.