Pages Bookstore Ends and the Documentaries Begin
Sadly, yes -- Pages Books on Queen Street West, a Toronto institution since 1979, has closed its doors forever.
But, of course, when one door closes another opens. Rachael Glassman, the owner's daughter (and former Pages employee) is currently producing a documentary about the venerable independent bookstore.
With all of our focus on how it closed, the story of how it opened in 1979 is just as interesting.
"My grandmother on my father's side had cancer. She was in Sunnybrook hospital, and my Dad was 29-years-old. Some of her last words to him were that she was so disappointed that he hadn't done anything with his life up until then. He was devastated. He'd been in San Francisco; he'd been in France; he'd worked at great bookstores all over the world. He was determined to do something -- that's how Pages got started."
Rachael tapped Aaron Mirkin, a second year Ryerson University student, to direct the film. They've interviewed authors, publishers, customers, video artists... Pages has touched a lot of people so there are plenty of stories to go around.
"We're not sure if it's going to be a short or a feature... There's so much content coming in that we keep going back and forth," Aaron tells me. "For myself I can't really remember going to the store and not finding something I wanted, not buying something. It was a store designed by readers, for readers. You could sense there was a lot of care put into the experience of shopping there. Learning about the history of it is really inspiring."
They started production at the end of July and hope to finish around November, and are aiming for it to premiere at a Toronto festival in the spring. The early days of the store, when beat poets like William S. Burroughs might stop by and do a reading, weren't very well documented. So, if anyone has any footage, posters or photos from the eighties or nineties at the store, Rachael and Aaron are interested in taking a look.
"I think it's a good thing that I'm involved in telling the Pages story" Rachael tells me. "I see it from the point of view of a member of the staff and as a part of the owner's family... Aaron brings a fresh, unbiased perspective to things, so it balances out."
For all the excitement over the film, there's obviously residual sadness over the demise of the store. "This year has been really bad for independent bookstores, and I hope these places can stay open in spite of their landlords. We're the fifth indie bookstore to close in Toronto this year. I just hope that next year is better."
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