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Books & Lit

Ballenford Books to Close

Posted by Tim / March 27, 2008

Ballenford BooksSad news today for bookstore lovers - Ballenford Books on Markham Street will soon be closing its doors. It's not the first time the store has been been on its last breath but by all appearances this will be its last. Back in the early 90's it was saved by a consortium of architects and supporters. For more on the Ballenford history, check out this page on their web site.

Of all the bookstores in Toronto, Ballenford was/is one of the most original - intimate, interesting revolving exhibits and a selection of books I rarely saw anywhere else. I guess I should have known something was up as for two months I've been trying to get them to answer some questions for a profile I wanted to write for blogTO's bookstore section only to have my repeated requests fall on deaf ears.

Keep reading for the email announcing the closure AND the store liquidation (on now).

Here is the email sent today by Susan Delean of Ballenford Books:

I want to begin by thanking many of you for your years of dedication and support of Ballenford Books, and - because of that support - this is a difficult letter to write.

Over the past few years, it has become ever more clear that Ballenford Books, is no longer a viable business. The cumulative effect of more schools turning to Master's programs and away from textbook based teaching; with local University libraries sourcing books through mega-distributors in North America while coping with shrinking budgets; with the onslaught of the 'big-box' retailers; online shopping options; the new norm of discount pricing; and - most recently - the parity of the Canadian dollar with the US dollar - that the Canadian publishers were too slow to react to - has forced the store into a corner.

We have worked very hard over the years to look for new and innovative ways to distinguish ourselves and to capture new markets and to maintain relevance within our niche; but these efforts alone have not been enough to keep the business healthy.

Most of you have been wondering if you can help. The answer is YES! BUY BOOKS AND IN VOLUME! We are liquidating and trying to do so as quickly as possible. The current inventory is an impossible weight, and it alone stops any chance of a future.

I cannot express how devastating this is for me personally and for my family. I would love to continue, it is my love and passion, but find my personal liabilities overwhelming and potentially irretrievable.

I have thought long and hard about potential partnerships and internal changes that might help long term, but ultimately have yet to find or resolve a realistic and sustainable option. I AM ALL EARS, if anyone has a worthwhile suggestion - now is the time to speak up. Toronto needs an architectural bookstore!

Discussion

3 Comments

thomas / March 27, 2008 at 08:01 pm
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I was very sad to receive the news via email today. Ballenford is an incredible bookstore with the best selection of architecture books in store or on the web. Every time I visit I end up spending way more than I planned, but it's always been worth every penny spent. I'm staying positive - it ain't over 'til it's over.
gabi / March 28, 2008 at 09:16 am
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Susan,
is there anything we can do now to prevent this? would some corporate sponsorship help? could we try to pass somehow the bookstore under the OAA "arm"? it's a shame to close it, there is no other specialty bookstore in the whole city!!!
LL / January 25, 2010 at 10:43 am
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Move the store to Cambridge Ontario. We have a School of Architecture there full of students more than willing to expand their libraries. Chapters just doesn't cut it.
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