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Book Scene: BMV, Is Bigger Better?

In the wake of local used stores closing, we find ourselves with another option in the Annex - BMV Books (if you haven't noticed the turqoise paint, then you should unplug that ipod and take a look around).

Similar in setup to box stores like ChaIndigo, BMV sells used/remaindered books in that familiar, easy to navigate, warehouse-y way. (They also have movies and cds - a quick browse round and I was eyeballing a couple 5$ DVDs and thinking at that price I was in a position to start building my library.)

BMV, like Giant Book Sale/Blowout/Name in Big Red Letters stores on Queen and the newish one near the St. Lawrence Market, sell mostly remainders - extra copies the publisher sells cut-rate just to clear their warehouses. And of course, the savings are passed on to you.

BMV also has actual used (vs. unsold) books. The benefit to the big box format is, of course, that you can fit a huge volume of titles in the store, and everyone will be duly impressed by the nice trade paperbacks you have for under ten bucks. The idea being that when you come in for emergency Cliff Notes, you might grab a 'bargain' book for another 30 because it's such a good deal.

What all this means is that you're unlikely to find anything that's been released within the past two years, but hey, that's not why you're there - you're ready to grab a nice coffee table book for $20, instead of $79.95.

Is this good? Hey, I'm in no position to argue with anything that saves me money, and, in the season of increasing credit debt, it's nice to ease the burden a little. The prices aren't far off from what you'd find at, say, nearby Seekers, but the shopping experience is not the same.

Ultimately I think you'll find that the quality selection is, as per usual, more likely found at the smaller places who've had the time and experience to learn who comes into the store, what they like, and what's worth carrying. Plus, they can introduce you to the mysterious author on the shelf at the back who will totally blow your mind.

But when it's late (oh, those long hours) and you need to grab a quick, big hardcover (innuendo only somewhat unintentional), or need to replace your copy Alias Grace, chances are you'll hit BMV.

Is there room in the ever-so-delicate local economy for both? Whether gigantism precedes extinction remains to be seen.

Read more: The Star has an article on BMV here.

photo from pink hat, red shoes


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