The Best Used Bookstores in Toronto
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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