The top 10 sites in Toronto for buying books and games online
The top sites in Toronto for buying books and games online let you support a local business without ever having to leave your doorstep. It's hard out there for independent retailers - particularly bookstores, who have been shutting down steadily as more and more shoppers opting for online convenience. (Game sellers, meanwhile, seem to be picking up steam in the face of renewed interest - just check out the local rise of the board game cafe.)
For vendors, going online opens up their reach to buyers looking for that rare book or board game outside Toronto; for us, it means being able to shop local (or get that item only available at a crosstown location) without having to set foot outside your house. Synergy!
Here are my picks for the top sites in Toronto for buying books and games online.
One of Toronto's most beloved comics stores has taken their stock online, including trade paperbacks from comics' biggest imprints (DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image and more). They've also muscled into the gaming side of things as well, offering board games and collectible card games. (Admittedly, the Snail's webstore might be most notable for their huge selection of vinyl toys, plashes, and other nerdraphelia.)
Snakes and Lattes
The wildly popular Annex board game cafe is capitalizing on its wide slate of available games (over 2000 titles, at last count) with an e-store that ships those games all over the world (Canadians get free shipping with a $100 purchase). The website doesn't come with the friendly, helpful baristas/gamemasters, but you can still get recommendations for featured and new games or shop by number of players. Lattes not included.
Coach House Books
This Toronto-based publisher focuses on its own titles, but you're still looking at 300-plus volumes of excellent CanLit. (Worth noting: Their back titles are all 25% off for the rest of July.)
The Annex games store/gamer space hawks its wares around the world with a massive eBay store; at last count, they had over 700 items, including the vintage Atari and NES consoles and games that make them a popular draw among nostalgia-tripping Toronto gamers.
University of Toronto Press
From the name, you might assume that U of T's publishing house focuses on curriculum-approved university textbooks. And they do - but their "scholarly press" outputs for "academics, students, and the informed reader" also features a ton of engaging non-fiction offerings, from memoirs to anthropology and natural history to dissections of film and pop culture. The selection in their web store is wide - check it out; you might just learn something.
The legendary Yonge St. bookstore, long Toronto's source for LGBT literature, is now the world's source for titles not easily found anywhere else. You can shop for 1000 of their 5000-plus titles online, including novels, non-fiction, graphic novels and art books.
Board Game Bliss
The Markham-based online game retailer is fairly new on the scene, but has already started reeling in a satisfied customer base of board game geeks, thanks to their quick shipping and friendly customer service. Their catalog comprises almost 3000 games and accessories, including a large imports section.
What you lack in terms of real-world shopping experience (magical second-floor reading room, live-in cats) when you navigate the Mabel's Fables website, you make up for in selection. The Mount Pleasant bookstore, geared toward children and young adults, has 8000-plus titles on its shoppable online roster, with more than 5500 in the "juvenile fiction" section alone (including plenty of grownup-approved reads).
Fun Games Cafe
Despite their name, Fun Games Cafe is not actually a cafe (though if they were, they'd probably make a killing). The Mississauga-based e-tailer offers over 1000 games through their website; they also do custom orders, and can set up local pickup for you if you happen to be in the Winston Churchill/401 area.
David Mason Books
The Adelaide West bookseller's website is not terribly fancy - it doesn't even have shopping cart functionality; you'd have to call them up or e-mail them and transfer your cash the old-fashioned way. But what they lack in convenience, they make up for in selection (over 18000 titles are listed in their online catalog), as well as what can only be called "book porn" - ridiculously rare editions of tomes by J.R.R. Tolkien, Ken Kesey and Maya Angelou (among many, many others) with asking prices in the hundreds (or thousands). For hardcore collectors, they can't be beat.
Did I miss any? Leave your favourite Toronto-based online book or game retailers in the comments.