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. More »
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 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 »
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, 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 »
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 »
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 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 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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 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 »
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 »
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 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 »