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Best of Toronto

The Best Used Bookstores in Toronto

Posted by Erinn Beth Langille / May 12, 2014

used bookstores torontoThe best used bookstores in Toronto are a refuge and a resource for those enamoured with the written word - and still willing to pay for true pages. Unlike online sources like Amazon, at these stores, you can actually strike up a conversation about literature, attend readings or author events or other celebrations, trade or barter some of your own tomes, or uncover some dusty relic hidden on a shelf, calling out to you - a book that may just change your life.

I love everything about them: the smell of old wood and old paper, the coloured spines lined up like soldiers, the characters that live and work there - people and dogs and cats and bunnies - making them feel like a strange occupied kingdom. Used bookstores ooze charm and romance and mystery, and encourage wonderful self-reflection - and when you finally decide on what to buy, contained within your purchase is a small slice of your experience in the shop.

Here are the best used bookstores in Toronto.

See also:

The best bookstores in Toronto
The best comic shops in Toronto
The best public library in Toronto

Monkey's Paw

Monkey's Paw

Monkey's Paw is a repository of jewels, and a gem itself - a bookstore specializing in the old, unsung and unusual printed matter. It offers curious titles in curious ways - for a toonie, you can take your chances with the Biblio-mat machine, which spits out books at random. Otherwise, scan the shelves - there is something bound to delight. More »

Eliot's Bookshop

Eliot's Bookshop

You'll find yourself singing 'Let's Get Lost' at Eliot's Bookstore on Yonge (just north of Wellesley). Its three full floors of books, neatly organized by label, include impressive sci-fi, theatre/acting, and Can-lit sections. More »

Balfour Books

Balfour Books

Balfour Books moved from its old location at College and Clinton, to its new location at College and Markham, but kept its thorough collection and legions of fans. Go for fiction, art books and poetry, stay for the charm and conversation. More »

BMV Books

BMV Books

Deadstock and used books are BMV's trade. Since they mix both together, sorting by author and genre, it's a best bet for paperback classics, rereleases, and titles that have come out in the last 10 years - perfect for the U of T crowd that frequents the Annex warehouse. Plus, prices are cheap and the are books often new, and they have DVDs, CDs and records too. More »

Acadia Bookstore

Acadia Bookstore

Acadia, with its lovely ironwork entrance, sticks out at Queen and Sherbourne like a diamond in the rough. Inside is just as lovely, bursting with over 10,000 books - many antiquarian and out-of-print, as well as prints, maps and artist monographs. More »

A Good Read

A Good Read

Roncesvalles is home to couple of great bookstores, but head to A Good Read if you fancy first editions and signed copies of fiction. Can-lit sits upfront, with a good graphic novel section and smaller variety of paperbacks. More »

The Great Escape

The Great Escape

Small and packed with a fine array of fiction and non-fiction, this store is owned by a pair of former teachers - Marg and Bruce - who lend a wealth of knowledge to the shop. The Upper Beaches store is home to a big kids' section, so the whole family can settle in. More »

Sellers & Newel

Sellers & Newel

Sellers & Newel have lovely first editions of classics, and good poetry, sports and design collections. With over 30,000 titles at their disposal, if they don't have it in the store, they'll search storage - they're super sleuths at tracking down just about anything. More »

Re Reading

Re Reading

Re Reading sells used books and DVDs in its cozy shop on the Danforth. Lots of classics, contemporary fiction and non-fiction and a good collection of comics, all at about 50% of the cover price or a little less with lots of bargains and deals to be had. More »

Circus Books and Music

Circus Books and Music

Moving from Cabbagetown to the Danforth in 2008, Circus Books and Music is thriving in the new location. Owner Ron Duffy keeps it classy with a focus on literary fiction and art and design books, as well as vinyl, with lots of CDs and DVDs as visual indulgence. More »

Pandemonium

Pandemonium

In 2012 Pandemonium moved a few blocks west in The Junction, increasing their floor space and expanding their already stellar collection of contemporary fiction, poetry, religion and philosophy, science fiction and mystery. Music (in the form of vinyl, CDs, DVDs and memorabilia) and movies are also available, and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. More »

Ten Editions

Ten Editions

Bordering the U of T campus on Spadina, Ten Editions is that romantic ideal of a used bookshop, crammed to the gills, full of dusty paperbacks and rare titles, cubbies and nooks to get lost in, and one of those rolling ladders to get at things high up. The Canadiana room in the back and their sheet music collection are wonderful. More »

River Trading Company

River Trading Company

Parkdale was in need of a bookshop, and River Trading Company fit the bill perfectly. Cats slink amongst the wooden shelves, which are filled with fiction, history, science fiction, fantasy and mystery, along with a few trinkets and curios. Prices are nice and low, too. More »

Community Roots

Community Roots

You'll find Community Roots along Lake Shore Blvd. in Etobicoke, jammed full of books, DVDs, CDs and more. Space is tight, so make use the friendly staff who know what's what - they'll help you negotiate the aisles without frustration. More »

Zoinks

Zoinks

Bloorcourt is home to Zoinks and its curated collection of books and music. Cult literature, pulp, classics, cookbooks, and great collection of graphic novels and vinyl keep the selection interesting. More »

Seekers

Seekers

Tucked into a long, cavernous basement at Bloor and Borden, Seekers is an Annex staple. Known for their wide selection of esoteric books, novels, and paperbacks, as well as the wafts of burning incense, it's remarkably well-organized, and the staff are engaged and down-to-earth. More »

Doug Miller Books

Doug Miller Books

Doug knows books, and he knows his inventory. This small Koreatown delight is crowded with fiction, sci-fi, mystery, graphic novels and children's books, so let Doug be your guide. The store has a pet bunny named Bumpkin, just to add to its charm. More »

Contact Editions

Contact Editions

One of the finest rare book dealers in Canada, Contact Editions specializes in precious volumes from around 1500 to the mid 2000s. Fancy a whole collection of Virginia Woolf's books, many signed and first editions, or one of only 300 original copies of Ernest Hemingway's Ten Stories, inscribed to a fellow Toronto Star journalist? Find them here, for a price - sometimes up to $100,000 for a single volume. More »

She Said Boom

She Said Boom

Two locations (Roncesvalles and College) with the same name, now unrelated and owned by different people, yet similarly great selections of fiction, cookbooks, philosophy and poetry, and plenty of vinyl. Pick either one and you're sure to find something that piques your curiosity. More »

Dencan Books

Dencan Books

Dencan Books is a knowing mess of trade paperbacks and mass-market books, boxed and piled and sliding off every surface in this Junction establishment. For some it's overwhelming, but drum up patience and a dust mask, and you're bound to uncover some wonderful books, at quite a steal. More »

Discussion

13 Comments

Goldielover / May 12, 2014 at 03:52 pm
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Some familiar names there, but I do miss the days when Queen West between McCaul and Spadina had so many second hand stores, with Old Favourites just to the south on Adelaide. Spent many a happy afternoon browsing them. It was disappointing when they were priced out of the area, and the restaurants and night clubs started moving in. I daresay I'm in a minority there, though.
nb / May 12, 2014 at 06:43 pm
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What store is the lead photo of?

FFS blogto caption your photos!
me / May 12, 2014 at 06:54 pm
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Im kinda surprised Bookends wasnt included in this list. Its where the Toronto Public Library sells old library books for 50 cents to a dollar. some very popular titles too. 2 locations, one at the yonge and bloor reference library and another one at the north york central library.

http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/books-video-music/book-sale/
Tim replying to a comment from nb / May 12, 2014 at 08:59 pm
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The top photo is from River Trading Company
TC / May 12, 2014 at 11:46 pm
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Sorry to say the Pleasant Bookstore is history.
Parkdale / May 13, 2014 at 09:49 am
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Great list unfortunately The River Trading company is closing at the end of June, and relocating to Hamilton
mike in parkdale / May 13, 2014 at 10:34 am
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Will The River be relocating their cat too? I love walking by and seeing that little fella relaxing in the window.
greyeminence / May 13, 2014 at 02:35 pm
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Sellers & Newel is my favourite! I stop in there all the time to browse, and almost always end up buying something. Peter Sellers, the owner, is very friendly and always willing to chat about books. And, as noted in the article, they really are very good at tracking things down. They've found several things for me.

They have a particularly interesting selection of horror/thriller/ghost stories.
Yepi 4 / May 14, 2014 at 03:25 am
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surely there will be very many and varied types of books we read.
Kirby / June 4, 2014 at 10:44 am
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Great shops, some of my faves. And always great to have the opportunity to browse and discover.
Daisi / July 7, 2014 at 08:15 pm
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as a soon to be university student i was just wondering; what are the chances of finding used textbooks in these stores? (in architecture to be specific)
Anoosh Iqbal / August 25, 2014 at 07:28 am
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Using old book pages is an awesome way to craft green. So many books find their way into landfills and that's so sad. As crafters we should look for more ways to reuse and upcycle. I really liked this Book of Books as well http://www.amazon.com/Book-Books-Projects-beautiful-ornaments-ebook/dp/B00MGJADUK/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&;qid=1407385936&sr=8-5&keywords=mahe+zehra. It shares many interesting projects. Altered Upcycling also has an awesome website and lots of free ebook offers if you sign up.
Juli / October 16, 2014 at 09:23 am
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Thanks for this list and comments. Does anybody know whether is any of these or in others one can find used scores of classical music?

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