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Bookstores

Doug Miller Books

Posted by Staff / Posted on January 9, 2011

Doug Miller BooksDoug Miller Books provides "New Books, not New Prices." After ten years on Mount Pleasant, the shop moved to Bloor about two months ago when their landlord put the building up for sale. Doug Miller loves his new location and its volume of walk-by traffic. "It's also a more scholarly crowd," he says, adding that he'd like to expand his non-fiction and science fiction selection.

Doug Miller BooksThe store stocks both new and used books, with prices discounted anywhere between 10% - 50%. So you can get a brand-new children's book that retails for $10.99 for only $5. With children's books, Doug tells me, the cost can be "prohibitive for a lot of parents." Yet, he says, "that book can be read hundreds of times." A stay at home dad, Doug reads to his three year old son Nathaniel every day, sometimes as with Green Eggs and Ham, up to 37 times in one day. "Without cheating!" Doug insists. Doug Miller Books also stocks the children's section at Seekers Books (509 Bloor St W).

Doug Miller BooksDoug sells what he calls "reading copies," mostly $3-5 paperbacks that people can carry around in their bags and read on the subway. His prices are very reasonable, with art books at $15-20 and signed Neil Gaiman graphic novels at $35. The store is small and a bit cramped, but very well-organized.

Doug Miller Books"I know every book in the store," Doug tells me. He also keeps the books arranged by genre and "strictly alphabetical" order to make locating titles quicker and easier. "We're an old-fashioned shop in that sense," he says. "We want to help people find things." Customers usually come in with a specific title in mind, and they just want it found quickly. "Browsing," Doug says, "is not dead, but it's miniscule."

Doug Miller BooksBut if, like me, you love just browsing and talking about books, I suggest dropping by nights or weekends, when Doug himself is usually at the store. I had a great time chatting with him about Toronto book culture, Victorian-era book binding and how the Internet is putting book scouts out of business. Most bookstores have a cat; Doug has a rabbit, an adorable fluffy gray one called Bumpkin. Be sure to rub his nose when you visit; it's addictive.

Doug Miller BooksAbove all, Doug is a book collector and he's been collecting since he was seven. "There's an obsessive quality to our lifestyle," he says. "To actually have the book on the shelf so you can revisit it at 3 am." He began his business out of his apartment, with a room closed off containing books he refused to sell, and even now, his passion for books is very evident. "It's about what you value," Doug says. "I value books."

Doug shows me some real treasures among his stock - original art by Winnie the Pooh artist Ernest Shepard for $3,500, a signed 1928 Faber edition of T.S. Eliot's poem "Song of Simeon" with Bauhaus illustrations for $1,500 and a Warner edition of Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse by Beatrix Potter autographed on May 10th, 1943 (just "months before her death," Doug enthuses) for $10,000.

Most of all, what Doug Miller Books does is provide inexpensive books and efficient, enthusiastic, knowledgeable customer service. "I will do this till the day I die," Doug says, looking at his shelves and boxes crammed with books. "It's what I'm meant to do."

Doug Miller BooksWriting by Jaclyn Eunice Qua Hiansen. Photos by Dennis Marciniak

Discussion

19 Comments

Fred / March 30, 2010 at 10:30 am
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I took my kid in there because he saw the... er... now I forget the name (a google search tells me "Bone") book in the window and I was very impressed that the store worker (I'll assume the owner) knew about the series. He said something about this book being a prequel and it was based on the grandmother before she started keeping cows (or something to that effect). He also recognized my son's interest in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and said that he had the latest book on order (he said the title but now I forget it). Anyway, the point is that the owner is very knowledgeable about the books he sells. My son has been bugging me to go back and has also enlisted his grandmother to do the same.
Jane / April 6, 2010 at 09:55 am
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Toronto, a city once rich in secondhand bookstores, has lost almost all of the old ones. Doug Miller is of the younger generation and a man who really knows books. His selection of children's books is very good, and it's always worth looking at the shelves to see if he's bought some unusual ones that we don't often find. For those who mourn the loss of the Queen Street dealers and the old secondhand trade, Doug's is a real throwback and a refuge for those who would, with the humanist, buy books before food and clothes.
Stu / January 10, 2011 at 04:28 pm
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The word on Mount Pleasant is that it's being replaced by a vet.
Welshgrrl / January 11, 2011 at 09:47 am
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This is wonderful! I live in the Christie/Davenport area and am delighted that there will be a decent secondhand book store nearby.
clicky clicky / January 11, 2011 at 10:20 am
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This double click to get to the actual story is really annoying.
lost in name only / January 11, 2011 at 11:42 am
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I have to admit, I have yet to make it down to the new location, but I have a great many books on my book shelves from his old store. Extremely knowledgeable, with a nicely chosen selection of books (rather than a mass of books that nobody wants to read, just to fill the store). Possibly my favourite bookstore of this type in the city.
T2 / January 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm
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Went in there a couple of weeks after it opened, and greatly impressed by the selection, prices and atmosphere. Doug is incredibly knowledgeable about the books he sells, as well as being appreciative of his customers and their individual tastes. Very kind, well spoken, everything you can imagine a book store owner should. Stop by and support this place!
Rob / January 13, 2011 at 09:49 pm
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God Bless used book sellers!

Since childhood, most of my eclectic book reading has been unplanned. Walk into a used bookstore, and let yourself be guided. Love it!
Chloe / July 19, 2011 at 09:56 pm
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Yes! I`ve finally found it! The last time I was here was back in September, and I`ve been trying to find it on Google but street view wasn`t very helpful as there was a huge Coca Cola truck blocking the way. I came across Doug Miller`s Books back in September on a school trip with a couple book-loving friends and we spent quite a bit of time perusing the collection. The proprietor (I assume it was Doug himself) let us stay and was a very nice man - we talked about books and literature and The Hunger Games, which was displayed beside the counter - I remember there was a bunny there as well! Being a student I didn`t have much money at the time, so Doug gave me a discount on an already cheap (but rather obscure) book and told me to come back, which I will now that I`ve found this place. It`s one heck of a good bookstore - extremely nice and helpful owner who knows his literature well, convenient location, and most of all great collection of books at a great price! Can`t wait to come back!
Demi / August 23, 2011 at 07:13 pm
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This secondhand book store is wonderful. I remember finding a copy of a book I had lost and it was hardbound. I went to buy it but the owner (I'm pretty sure he's the owner) told me I would save much more if I bought the softcover one. I really appreciated the advice because I didn't have much money on me then and would not have been able to buy the book. Fortunately he found the softcover one and I was able to replace my lost book without having to spend almost 40 bucks. The man knows his store and he's also very friendly to his customers. The store has a wide variety of books that would appeal to anyone.
Amy / September 19, 2011 at 02:53 pm
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"a more scholarly crowd"! Oh Doug, you wound us Davisville Villagers. Seriously, I'm glad he's found a neighbourhood which is so amenable to his fantastic store. It's greatly missed around here.
maggie / October 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm
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I've been shopping at Doug Miller books for about 5 years, I love the atmosphere and the prices. I really enjoy chatting with Doug and appreciate his help finding new authors to read.
Eugenia / December 20, 2011 at 06:49 pm
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I have been at this bookstore several times since the summer. I found the owner quite helpful. My 11 year old nephew really enjoyed himself there too. I was able to get many more books for him due to the good prices. I have made it my go to book store.
Tarnimah / July 7, 2012 at 06:11 pm
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This store is amazing. I'm very obsessive about my books. They have to be perfect quality. I mean corners crisp kind of thing. I never though a used bookstore could ever have what I was looking for. UNTIL I WALKED IN HERE. Like I said, AMAZING store. I snagged up the first three harry potter books, with the original cover art, for $15. I also got a perfect condition hardcover copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for $12. That's $20 less than retail price!
Not only were the deals incredible, but Doug was too. He has a great personality and unbelievably helpful. He is 100% for his customers.
I will definitely be visiting again. And again and again and again :)
Randy / December 22, 2012 at 09:57 am
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What makes Doug's bookstore so interesting is that he is always circulating new material and keeping updated on what is currently appealing to readers' interests. Doug's hardworking ethic to keep informed about authors and book content is impressive.
Sharon / May 5, 2013 at 01:22 pm
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Last night I dropped by to check out this book store because all of my friends are always raving about how great the books are especially at such an amazing price. I was almost done browsing just when I noticed, from the corner of my eye, the Outlander series. Most of the books were there but it was nt quite complete and when I asked Doug about it, he was quick to help me find the rest of the series and sold me the entire series of seven books for $35. As I was at the counter, he told me how he met Diana Gabaldon and we talked about how the series is about to become a mini tv series, so everyone's right about how knowledgeable this man is about the books he sells because he hasn't even gotten the chance to read the series yet. Browsing in his store was a great experience and I'll definitely go back for more.
Sherbie / July 23, 2013 at 08:52 pm
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I was walking along korea town and walked by his store. Thanks to my peripheral vision, I thought I saw tons of books and retreated my steps. This store is crammed with books at amazing, low prices! I bought a brand new-like copy of A Dance with Dragons for just 12$! Wow, right? Also had a short, fun chit-chat with the owner holding a rabbit. He even gave me a discount card. Yay!
John C / August 20, 2013 at 04:41 pm
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Nathaniel just turned six. Doug Miller is a gem. I'll buy books here 'til I'm gone. Doug is the best. Please cherish your discount coupon, but don't use it. Instead, overpay a bit. Pay $6 for a $5 discounted book. It will nourish this eloquent, friendly, brilliantly-informed bookseller, and keep him operating. May his bookstore expand.
Shannon / August 25, 2013 at 05:23 pm
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hi there, i was in your mt pleasant store and wondered where you went til i drove by this summer!
i have a bunch of trixie belden/donna parker etc books from the late 50's/60's. the ones with the shiny covers...have never had the heart to toss them but now i do not have room for them...are books on consignment or do you buy them from e.g. me? are these of any value?
thanks!

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