I love reading a good book. I love the texture of the pages. I love the smell of the book. I love the way it feels in my hands.
And I especially love reading a book on the Labour Day Weekend. It just seems like a fitting celebration to the last “official” weekend of the summer. Now don’t get me wrong — I don’t spend the entire weekend reading — I do go outside to take in the wonders of nature and all the great things to do in the city.
But, I do love my books; so here are the best used bookstores in Toronto…the last bastions of vintage hard copy books.
In the age of Kindle and Kobo, these little shops are the only places you’ll find rare first editions you can’t download off the internet. Support them now before they disappear forever.
Here are the best used bookstores in Toronto.
As its name implies, this Bloorcourt bookstore is all about adventure—namely the one of discovering awesome old reads. Any book lover can spend an unreasonable amount of time perusing the shelves here, but the store’s biggest draw is definitely the Biblio-Mat: a homemade machine that shoots out a random used book for the cost of a Twoonie.
There’s multiple locations of this independent bookstore brand around the city, but this one in the Annex remains a favourite. Get lured in by their signature stacks of cheap used reads at the front of the store and stay for its easy-to-walk-through aisles and huge selection of well-priced books.
This neat store with locations on the Danforth and in the Beaches sells used books and DVDs in pretty much every genre. The offering here is general, ranging from classics to contemporary novels, used CDs and DVDs, and lots of hard covers — all for really good prices. Keep an eye out for their frequent sales and the Star Trek memorabilia scattered around the place (the owner’s a fan).
Located in Little Italy, this small shop has a quality of its own. Neither dusty nor discount-oriented, Balfour is a cozy yet classy store where you can find a surprising amount of used gems well below average retail pricing. They also have a good number of coffee tables books too, if you’re looking to spruce up the living room.
A Good Read
Roncesvalles is home to couple of great bookstores, but head to A Good Read if you fancy first editions and signed copies of fiction. Can-lit sits up front, with a good graphic novel section and smaller variety of paperbacks. If you’re looking for some rarities, this is one of the top places to find them.
Sitting in the Junction, this little bookstore is a highly curated space that once looked even neater compared to its now-shuttered neighbour, the notoriously cluttered Dencan’s. The selection here is pretty limited but What Book Exchange lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality, especially in its literature section.
Great Escape Books
Lined floor-to-ceiling with books, this quirky store in the Upper Beaches is worth taking a trip with the family to. There’s guaranteed to be something here for everyone (they’ve got a great kids’ section) and despite being packed with everything from vintage sci-fi to children’s books and CanLit, the space feels organized enough to pass hours by in.
Offering an eclectic selection of old finds, this book store in the Junction actually deals in mostly anything used, from vintage records to CDs and art. There’s lot of breathing room here, and lovers of fiction will find a well-sized offering of pre-loved reads here.
Doug Miller Books
Doug knows books, and he knows his inventory. This teeny-tiny Koreatown delight is crowded with fiction, sci-fi, mystery, graphic novels, and children’s books (also Lego pieces everywhere). Head here if you’re looking for a bookstore with a really personal touch.
Images by Jesse Milns of Monkey’s Paw, Balfour Books, Chris McNeil, Re:Reading, Kateri Lanthier, Doug Miller Books, Arash Kamangir