Archives for: February 2008, 03

02/03/08

Permalink 12:14:10 am, by Email , 433 words   English (CA)
Categories: Canadiana, Arts And Culture, History In The News

Canada's Oldest Book Shop To Close Forever

Book Room to close after 169 years

It survived two World Wars and the Great Depression. But it couldn't survive the onslaught of online ordering, big-box stores such as Chapters and the expansion of books into grocery stores and drugstores. The Book Room in Halifax - billed as the oldest bookstore in Canada - is shutting its doors after 169 years.

"The staff and I are both really sad about having to do this," Charles Burchell, president of The Book Room Ltd., said Tuesday. "But we just realized that after watching the sales for the last year that it just wasn't viable anymore, as far as we were concerned. There were too many other factors at work."

Business started slipping in the last couple of years, culminating this December in "the worst Christmas ever," said Burchell, who has been with the store 42 years. The final nail in the coffin was the dual pricing of books, with higher sticker prices in Canada than in the United States. The recent higher Canadian dollar made smaller bookstores such as The Book Room unable to match the savings offered by some larger book chains.

Publishers couldn't react quickly enough to the change, Burchell said, pointing out that books are begun about three years before they reach the market. It's the only retail industry he knows of where the selling price is already set, he added. "The only way you can make any profit is to control that margin in between, and that has to pay for everything."

The Book Room, located at 1546 Barrington St., tried bringing in gift items such as clip-on reading lights and fancy bookmarks, but that failed.

The closing puts seven employees out of work. Staff declined to comment Tuesday, other than to say they will really miss one another when the doors close for good at the end of March. The wholesale operations will continue. Burchell said they'll start selling off the inventory and even the fixtures over the next month or two.

"It's a very dark day in the book industry," bookseller Heidi Hallett said Tuesday, "and we are really, really sad to see them close. It's definitely a sign of the times, with people shopping online and big-box stores and all that, but it's just so incredibly sad, because we need independent bookstores."

Hallett felt so strongly about customer selection that she bought Frog Hollow Books, one of the city's few remaining independent bookstores, a couple of years ago.

Full Article Here

As a history lover, book lover, and a supporter of Canadian independent business I just find this really sad, and a bloody shame. :(

Enditall

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