handy book exchange

Beloved Toronto bookstore closing after 35 years

After 36 years of business, the only independent used book store in the city north of Eglinton is closing its doors forever. 

The Handy Book Exchange – which, since 1982, has offered the Avenue and Lawrence community a cozy place to gather and peruse thousands of books – will be no more on April 1. 

“Everybody is very upset about this," says the store manager Carole Nelles.

According to Carole, Handy Book has long experienced property issues like leaking roofs, and is now being forced to evacuate while the space undergoes renovations. 

After the changes are made, Carole says rent will go up to $6,000 a month – an astronomical price compared to what the store is paying now. 

With no new affordable property nearby to call home, Handy Book Exchange has nowhere to go. 

“I’ve had people coming in crying,” says Carole, who has run the store for 13 years since her close friend and original owner of the store, Olive Navis, passed away. 

"The single, older people that are retired, they come here to meet people, to talk to people."

Now tasked with the daunting prospect of getting rid of around 50,000 books before the end of March, Handy Exchange is selling its books for $1 each. 

Filled from top to bottom with books on all topics ranging from literature to architecture, plus a room dedicated to children’s books, there are hopes that the store’s longtime following of dedicated readers will be able to come collect as many books as possible. 

Those that can’t sell will be donated to charities like the Raptor’s Read to Achieve program, partnering with Demar DeRozan to bring books to underserved children in the city. 

"This was a part of the community," says Carole. "A big part." 

Lead photo by

OntarioPhotosphere


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