Book / magazine stores, Toronto
The World's Biggest Bookstore is part of the Chapter's/Indigo. It may have been the largest bookstore in the world when it was founded in 1980 but this claim is now made by a Barnes and Noble outlet in New York. Still it is probably the largest bookstore in Canada.
The store has a very wide selection of books that is much broader than other stores in the Chapter's/Indigo chain. However if it is atmosphere that you are looking for, then you will not find it here. The books are displayed on a orange steel shelves and there is rarely helpful staff to assist you nearby.
Egads, another casualty in the decline of the book. Have we just stopped reading or are books too expensive. The World's Biggest Bookstore has just closed down too. I can remember my Mother telling me how excited I will get about visiting this store back when I was just 17 years of age.
What to buy: The store has a wonderful history/politics section which is why I still come here. The magazine section is unrivaled in Toronto.
Nicholas Hoare is perhaps my favourite bookstore in Toronto. Located in a lovely 19th century building, the bookstore is decorated with high wooden shelves, big fluffy couches and fireplaces. This is actually what a bookstore should look like instead of a shopping market or bowling alley full of books. Nicholas Hoare is well known for its large availablility of British titles, biographies, travel books and children books. Above all, Nicholas Hoare has a superb collection of art books that are hard to find in other bookstores. The staff here is very knowledgable if a little snobby.
Perhaps they were a little too snobby as this bookstore like so many others has just closed down. This is the sign of the time I guess.
This shop sells nothing but books on tape or CD. It is a veritable emporium of audiobooks, carrying titles on virtually any subject. There's all kinds of fiction and comedy titles, plus more obscure ones on all sorts of subjects. Why not stop in and pick up something for the trip home?
This is actually a collection of shops all located on the same block, right beside Honest Ed's. The land was purchased by Ed Mirvish and developed according to his philanthropic passion, the arts. Today you will find plenty of stores that definitely fit the category of "niche marketplace" along Markham from Bloor to Ulster and the store fronts are an odd group of 80's style bizzarerie and kitshy English village shop.
What to buy: Not just books, although the centrepiece of Mirvish Village is the David Mirvish Books shop (David is Ed's son), which specializes in art and art-related themes. If you're here around New Years you should stop in to get one of the discounted art calenders. There are also video stores that specialize in hard to find DVD and art shops galore.
What to pay: More expensive than average, although sales at David Mirvish Books are listed in the Globe and Mail on Saturdays.
Chapters is a huge book store with branches throughout the city. When it first opened, it was a tremendous novelty for me seeing such a huge shop. At the beginning of 1991, Chapters and Indigo joined up, making the huge entity mega-huge! What is amazing is the variety. Not just books, but tapes and music is also available.
In spite of its name, I wasn't entirely sure whether the World's Biggest Bookstore actually was the world's biggest, either now or at any time in its past. It's certainly VERY big and I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised to find that it was the world's biggest.
My subsequent research suggests that it was the world's biggest bookstore when it opened in 1980, but has since been surpassed by a larger bookstore in New York. However, controversy remains and this bookstore is still considered by some to be the world's biggest....depending on how you define "biggest"!
Anyway, needless to say, this is a huge bookstore with just about every type of book that you could imagine.
I headed for the enormous "Travel" section (itself bigger than the average bookstore) and spend the best part of an hour browsing the titles of weird and wonderful travel guides for every country imaginable. I could easily have spent a whole day in there! In the end, I bought myself a Toronto guidebook from the section dedicated to "Canadian Travel".
As well as books on every conceivable topic, the bookstore sells a vast selection of magazines and newspapers. It proved to be a great place to escape a cold January afternoon for a little while!
You can read more about the bookstore at Wikipedia
What to buy: Pretty much any book you can think of! Lots of magazines and newspapers to choose from too.
I don't know if it actually is the world's largest bookstore, but it is HUGE.
There are two floors filled with all kinds of books. Some sections are larger than most bookshops.
You will find almost everything that has been edited in Canada, but only in English or French, if you are looking for foreign books, this is not the place. They only had a few Greek ones.
The IT section is particularly large as is the children's book section. I have also never seen such a large section of science fiction books
There are also DVD's and videocassetes as well as Magazines for sale. "Navigation" is quite easy as well as the signs are quite explicit and easy to find. Should you not find what you are looking for, you can use one of the computers spread around the store and have it ordered (if you have the time to wait, of course).
Take a look at the sales section as there are quite some bargains to be found.
What to buy: Books, books, books.
I couldn't bring myself to pick one, so here's a few.
Balfour books on College St has a great selection of used titles in areas like philosophy, critical theory, and cultural studies. I love the feel of the place and always, always find something interesting there. The literature section is small, though they have a table of handpicked used titles that is often full of interesting finds.
Atticus books at 84 Harbord St specializes in used academic books of every kind, including a great philosophy section.
For artbooks, David Mirvish books at 595 Markham St (south of Bloor St) is fantastic.
Ten Editions on Spadina Ave near Bloor St is one of my favorites for used literature titles. They always have great selections in the window, and the building is a great old creaky building with high shelves and rolling ladders.
There are some good ones on Yonge street between college st and Bloor St--but I can never remember the names. One is a great, dusty, wooden two story old-school bookstore, the other a very small place with a limited selection--but often very good finds.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Barnes and Noble store in New York City is now the world's biggest bookstore, but at one time Toronto's World's Biggest Bookstore held the title. It was once a bowling alley, but both stories of the building were converted into a gigantic bookstore. It may not be the biggest anymore, but it still has plenty of books to draw your attention. One could spend days browsing in there. This is must-stop shopping for any book lover visiting Toronto.
Another Man's Poison is a bookstore devoted exclusively to design books. It carries a huge array of books covering all disciplines of design -- interior design, architecture, graphic design, industrial design and so forth.
What to buy: Design books, of course.
Pages is another great alternative to the mega bookstore chains. It has a funky decor and an amazing selection of interesting books.
What to buy: Pages carries lots of books you won't find at stores like Chapters/Indigo/Coles - topics such as LGBT lit, feminism, activism and such. Also many more high-brow books than you will find there. Whenever I go in I always get engrossed in a book on some topic or other.
These days when I go into a mega bookstore like Chapters/Indigo or Barnes and Noble I find myself getting bored pretty quickly. While the stores are big, the selection is usually limited to the top sellers.
To counteract this I love to shop at independent bookstores like Nicholas Hoare. This store has a wonderful ambiance with gorgeous wooden shelves. Although the shop is on the small side, it carries a tremendous selection of stimulating books on all kinds of topics.
At the centre of the store are nice comfy chairs.
This store is just what the name says, a whole store devoted to cookbooks. They have a huge selection and often import cookbooks that aren't normally available in Canada.
They frequently have celebrity appearances at the store, so keep an eye out and maybe you can meet one of your favourite chefs.
Sometimes it's hard to find the exact magazine your looking for but this is a great place to find it. It's Presse Internationale on College Street. I am always looking for a British magazine that I love to read called 'Practical Photography'. It's hard to find, but I could find it here!
The one I went to was on College street in Little Italy, but there are a few more of these magazine stores in Toronto. You can find them at : 537 Bloor Street West, 364 Danforth Ave., 2068 Queen Street East.