Thursday, September 22, 2011

An Ode to Used Bookstores

Is there any shop so full of romance,
than the dimly-lit second-hand bookstore?
With ardent passion, I will take this stance,
and sing of its treasures forevermore.
For where else can you be greeted by a friendly cat,
and browse curious, tattered volumes on creaky shelves?
The forgotten personal library of countless anonymous readers.
In the age of harsh fluorescent lights and the pert "@",
a quiet soul seeks stillness; in dusty books she delves,
yearning for literary gold, while opposing consumerism's leaders.

Okay, so it's plain that I don't study poetry. Apologies. But the used bookstores of the world really are praise-worthy. They're also endangered - leading a tenuous existence on the periphery of commercialism and always at the mercy of the high cost of rent throughout the city of Vancouver.

Kestrel books, 4th ave between Dunbar and Alma. Resident feline very friendly.

One such bookstore is Brigid's Books on West Broadway (at Bayswater). It's lovely - it's one of the easier-to-navigate stores, with high ceilings and tall, narrow shelves. It may be doomed, however...

I'm not proud of my eavesdropping capabilities - it doesn't seem a very noble trait, but I defend myself with the claim that my hearing has always been above-average (and steadily decreasing, no doubt, with the din of the city a constant in my current life). But when I was at Brigid's yesterday, I did happen to hear a conversation between the property's owner and the bookseller, regarding major renovations to the premises. The application for construction (but not outright demolition, apparently) will be submitted for approval, and propose a time frame of November-January.

Brigid's Books - on borrowed time?

The bookseller did, tactfully in my opinion, point out that this is the busiest time of year for them - the pre-Christmas shopping season. The landlord said some very nice things about respecting the used book industry, and agreed that it was a shame to lose yet another used bookstore in Kitsilano, but concluded with, "It's just business, you see."

I left at this juncture, uncomfortable in hearing of the impending move, if not outright demise, of Brigid's Books. I hope that by publicizing this hopefully trivial piece of knowledge I am not doing Brigid's a disservice - in fact, it is my intention to get you to GO AND SHOP - SUPPORT BRIGID'S BOOKS TODAY! Because who knows how much longer it will be there...

Here today, gone tomorrow?

I believe Brigid's is associated with Tanglewood Books (Broadway and Granville), but that's archaic, anecdotal information stored in a disused portion of my memory. If I'm right, perhaps Brigid's will live on inside Tanglewood. I just really don't want to see Brigid's shut down - such a convenient location, and it lends real charm to that stretch of Broadway.

In fact, I encourage you to go and support all the local used bookstores, including lovely Kestrel Books by 4th and Alma. Kestrel is another of my favourites, with its very friendly greeter, the resident feline ("Ruby"). And Canterbury Tales on 4th at Maple is another great choice (James, if he is on that day, is probably one of the most helpful and knowledgeable booksellers I've ever had the fortune of meeting). Sadly, no cat.

Kestrel Books on 4th near Alma

Don't forget that the VPL Booksale is looming (October 27-30th) - mark those calendars!

Please Support your Local Used Bookstore Today!

W Broadway at Stephens location

And once you've visited all the Kits used bookstores (including the Salvation Army stores at Stephens & Broadway and 4th & Cypress - they have more contemporary fare, typically), A'son reminds me that (don't forget the www or you'll get an 'under construction' notice!) is another excellent online choice for finding that elusive title.

Have a recommended local used bookstore that isn't in Kits? Please comment below and recommend those from your neighbourhoods/regions for the benefit of other outside-of-Kits readers!

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