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Re: Reading

Posted by Derek Flack / Posted on April 23, 2009

Rereading MainSo, to begin with a little wordplay, let's call this post "Regarding: Re: Reading." Not working for you? Okay, I'll start again...

As I enjoy few things more than playing the role of the flaneur, I often explore neighbourhoods in the hopes of seeing something new or unfamiliar (or both). And what better thing for a financially strapped book lover to discover than a newly opened used bookstore. Ok, I'm lying a bit here. I actually got a press release informing me of Re: Reading's opening, but I like the exploratory narrative better, so that's what I'm going with. It makes me sound more interesting. And besides, I can always justify my version by using a little legal jargon: inevitable discovery, anyone?

Rereading LoungeAnyway, the point is, of course, that when I found (or found out about) Re: Reading, I was excited to learn a little more about it. After all, if you haven't noticed, there aren't so many bookstores - used or otherwise - opening up these days. So I set up a chat with Christopher Sheedy, the owner of the store, to see what inspired (or provoked!) him to open up shop in the midst of this supposed economic apocalypse.

20090422-Rereading BooksNot surprisingly, Sheedy is, and always has been, a book lover. As we started talking about books - rather than the book business - he spoke of his early adoration of sci-fi and fantasy narratives, and revealed that one of his most memorable early book discoveries was that all the original Star Trek episodes had been novelized, meaning he no longer had to depend upon television time slots to get his fix of Captain Kirk and Company. So, yes, it would be fair to describe Sheedy as a book geek. But, hey, who else would you want running your local bookstore?

Rereading BooksLocated on the Danforth at Carlaw, Re: Reading joins Circus Books and Music as a recent arrival on strip, and creates a nice balance with the local stores that specialize in new books, namely TYPE and Book City. The choice of location was really quite simple. Not only does Sheedy live around the corner, the Danforth is also as pedestrian rich as Toronto streets get, which is perfect for attracting clientele into the store. And an attractive store it is. Re: Reading has a clean, bright and polished look, characteristics that are quite unlike the majority of used bookstores.

Rereading BooksOriginally a retirement plan, Sheedy and his wife decided to forgo waiting on his little dream and opened earlier this month. I realize that opening a bookstore may not sound like the grandest of visions, but there's something quite romantic about the idea, and I totally understand the desire. Tending to one's own neighbourhood shop seems a good way to simplify, even if financial peril may always lurk somewhere in the shadows. But, toward that end, Sheedy says business has been even better than he expected, which is a pretty auspicious sign considering the wider economic context.

RereadingAt present, the store is best described as general list, with a pretty wide mix of genres, and quite a high number of hardcovers. Sheedy also does trade in CDs and DVDs, although these sections are considerably smaller than the print offerings. Interestingly the majority of his current stock was acquired in one fell swoop, when he heard that a store in the thriving metropolis of Petawawa was closing its doors. This netted Sheedy around 12000 titles, to which he has since added about 3000 more through acquisitions upon opening Re: Reading.

RereadingAs I was packing up to leave, more boxes of books were arriving, this time in the form of leftovers from a local school's book drive. Now, you'd think that these would all be pretty drab and scruffy, but surprisingly there was some good stuff that made its way to the store. And that led me to a realization that, however basic, I had yet to formulate. The success of used bookstores is inversely proportional to the degree to which people are content to get rid of their books for next to nothing. Because once that happens, people like me can buy them from someone like Sheedy for almost next to nothing.

Rereading Exterior



jamesmallon / April 23, 2009 at 10:45 am
How are the prices!? Used book stores in Toronto have an unrealistic opinion of the worth of unused books (esp. Balfour Books in Little Italy). If I have to pay more than 50% of cover, I'm buying new, or going to the library.
Elle Driver / April 23, 2009 at 10:51 am
Hey, it's Dr. Penfield from that "Heritage Minute" commercial!

"Dr. Penfield, did you pour cold water on my hand? I SMELL BURNT TOAST!"

(Nice little store - will have to check out! :)
Derek replying to a comment from Elle Driver / April 23, 2009 at 10:58 am
That's a great pick up! I always get worried when I smell burnt toast because of that Heritage Minute, even if it's obvious there's bread in the toaster...

/ April 23, 2009 at 11:26 am
Its great to see a book store that seems so welcoming and uncluttered.
I'll have to take a trip and visit it for myself.
~karla / April 23, 2009 at 01:34 pm
Thanks so much, Christopher, for finding those Terry Pratchett's for me so quickly! What a beautiful store.
N / April 23, 2009 at 07:10 pm
Regarding the prices: most of the used bookstores do have unrealistic prices except BMV books. You are absolutely right: if a book is used (and not rare) it shouldn't be more than 50% cover.
I'll check it out sometime
Anthony / February 28, 2010 at 12:23 am
In some respects the cheapest used bookstore in the city is Ten Editions on Spadina just south of Bloor. Most of the books are pristine condition hardcovers protected in plastic wrapping that do sell for around 50% of cover price, but then there are several racks near the entrance that sell literary paperbacks for $1.5-$4.5. Compare that to BMV, which will try to sell some average Dickens edition for $7. Seekers - which used to have rude attendants but now have very nice and knowledgeable employees - is typically a couple dollars less than BMV on everything. Also BMV charges tax which none of the others do.
Diane / April 9, 2011 at 05:30 pm
This is my favourite book store. The staff is so nice, the couches/benches are great and they have a great collection of books (especially scifi!), comics, and DVDs.

As for prices, they're a bit pricey, but still reasonable. books are mostly 50% of cover price, and for the most part he's matching the used price on amazon, give or take. It's not a bargain store; but it' just as cheap as online, which I'm good with. 2 for 1. The soft cover books are 5-6$ a go. comics are cover price, with a buy 4 get one free, (and they are on perfect condition, wrapped and all).
India / August 13, 2011 at 05:27 pm
Thanky Thanky for all this good informtaoin!
Matt / December 11, 2012 at 05:26 pm
Nice staff, great selection. How he can afford rent on such a prime Danforth location is my only question.
chris wagland / May 12, 2014 at 03:51 pm
Kitchen Con.... been looking for that! do you still have it?
Tara / August 14, 2014 at 08:17 am
I was wondering whether anyone knows a used bookstore with fantasy, science fiction, ... for good prices?
Sean / September 13, 2014 at 04:20 pm
Tara, I would recommend this place. His books are all in very good condition and he has sale on right now. I picked up the entire Wheel of Time today for about 1/3 of what it would have cost new from chapters.
I was happy to tell him that other places either had nothing stock; confined to one book shelf of fantasy/sci-fi. Or they wanted almost full price in which its almost worth going to chapters.
Super friendly customer service and reasonable prices means I will be a repeat customer.

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