Category Archives: Retail

Wanted: Young hands to help build a robot.


A woman in her 80s approached me today in the kids department and said she was looking at the Meccano.  She had never seen it before, in Canada.

She told me she always wanted to play with Meccano as a child, but her father told her she wasn’t allowed because she was a girl.  She looked at her hands, and held them out, and said, “My hands are probably too old now, that I am finally brave enough to not listen.”  I mentioned that one of my daughters is in the robotics club at school, and the other one is waiting to be old enough to be allowed to join.  She smiled and said “Good.  You are smart.  I am so glad.  I was stupid, to let my father tell me that girls could not be engineers.  Could not be mechanics.  That I could not play with Meccano.  Your girls will not be stupid.”

I found myself being very grateful for my own father, who bought me a toolbox at a young age, taught me to build a computer from scratch, and never made me think being female had any impact on my intelligence or ability.  He also bought a Meccano set for my daughter last Christmas.

Someone needs to build a robot with this woman.  If I see her again, it may be me.  I just hope I can find her again.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Retail

Weird Erotica. REALLY Weird.

One of the things you learn working in a book store is that there are some seriously strange books out there.  And just when you thought you’d seen the strangest one out there – nope, that’s just been annihilated.  Some of the weirdest, to me, is the erotica stuff – and I am not a prude by any means, but some of the titles made me giggle uncontrollably.  Here are some of my favorites:


Taken by the T-Rex.  Who looks at a T-Rex and thinks “sexy”?  Christie Sims, that’s who.


Wouldn’t you worry about bits falling off?  Are they hoping for bits falling off?  I don’t understand.

9216061Aster Zhen is clearly going for a very niche market here.  Not just a zombie queen, a mutilated lesbian zombie queen.  Ok then.

a524dfe4f9d1bf709b2022e5c1fe87865385275f-thumbJ.J. Abraham apparently writes all kinds of mythological sexy books.  If giant fire-breathing lizards do it for you (I’m looking at you, Daenerys). Abraham is your girl.

covers_335466The title.  The cover.  Chuck Tingle (obviously his real name) is a genius.

51t7MLGcS1L._AA324_PIkin4,BottomRight,-60,22_AA346_SH20_OU15_I may be forced to purchase this, just to figure out what the hell is going on here.  How would this work?  Where did this idea even come from?  SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT IS HAPPENING!  Can’t think about this book without laughing.

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LGBT Picks?

Hi everyone,

Here in Toronto, Pride Week falls in June, and I love doing great displays for pride.  I want to not feature the same titles every year, so I am asking you guys if you have read anything with LGBTQ characters or themes, for all age ranges, that you thought were great.  I have some great YA picks, but I need more books for kids under twelve, and new books for adults.  I don’t just want romance – books that feature great characters who are gay, trans, asexual – I am perfectly happy for that not to be central to the story line.  In fact, that’s great, because I want there to be books where a person’s sexuality, gender identity, gender expression, is only a part of who they are, not the whole story.

I know I’m super-early, but the more time I have, the better the selection will be, and it gives me extra time to get hold of hard-to-get stuff.  Thanks for the help!


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Something a Little Fishy With These Customers

fantasy-computer-goldfish-creative-art-wallpaper-1136x640_8bdd084536c156bd844e9f2316fc4c8d_raw A customer in the store yesterday was telling me about her goldfish, and how it had its own Facebook page.  This was moderately cute until I realized that she was telling me that her goldfish told her what to type, and that obviously it couldn’t do it itself without a waterproof computer.  Because clearly, that’s the only impediment to fishy bloggers – the lack of good waterproofing. Cue backing away slowly, as she is telling me about her plans to mic the aquarium and live stream (no pun intended) her talking fish… On a different note, I had a customer who told me he had no idea Nelson Mandela was a member of the Illuminati.  Why did they think he was a member of the Illuminati, you may ask? Because of the Coretta Scott King award on the cover of Kadir Nelson’s children’s book, Nelson Mandela.  Sigh. download

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Filed under Bookstore, Retail

Why You Should Buy a Copy of Walking Home Right Now

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Eric Walters is a bestselling writer of books, ranging from picture books for the littlest to adventure novels for teens.  Kids are drawn to his books because he doesn’t hesitate to tackle major issues – 9/11, war, poverty – but he does it at their level.  He’s also a very cool guy.

He runs an orphanage in Kenya.  He covers all the administrative fees.  He is an elder in the Kumba tribe – as he puts it, “the whitest Kumba ever.”  And Walking Home is based on true events, and some of the kids he has gotten to know there.

In Walking Home, a brother and sister have been forced to move to a refugee camp, after political violence ended in their father’s death and the destruction of their home.  While in camp, their mother dies of malaria.  Rather than be separated into different orphanages, they make the decision to slip away from camp in the night, and try to find their maternal grandparents, who they have never met, in a town no one has ever heard of.  They have no money to speak of, so the journey of hundreds of kilometres will be on foot.

It is a moving story, and it’s enhanced by the fact that Walters walked the walk – literally.  He made the journey they did, and the text has symbols throughout the book where you can go to the book’s website and watch a video clip, or see a photo, or hear the sounds of Kenya.  It is an immersive experience – and listening to Walters talk about Kenya, his compassion for her people, his amazement at their strength – well, I dare you to stay unmoved.  I certainly was touched.

In fact, my whole bookstore was touched to the point where we decided we were going to sell as many copies as we could.  Since the publisher has committed to donating $1.30 from the sale of each copy of walking home to Walters’ charity, Creation of Hope ( )   we found out from Walters that selling 77 copies of the book in store was enough to run the orphanage for a day.

At last count, we had sold almost enough for three days – more than 200 copies.  We received the following photo:


So, help out.  Buy a great book, help a great cause.  You have nothing to lose, and they have everything to gain.


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Filed under Authors, Books, Bookstore, children's books, General Awesomeness, Retail, Review, Teen Books

What We CAN Do.

The other day, in my bookstore, we had a small child who was dropped off by her caregivers.  This was a child who was definitely not old enough to be spending hours in a retail store, by herself.  I won’t go into detail, to protect her, but suffice it to say that the authorities had to be called and it was very painful for all involved.

I was having a lot of trouble moving past the incident, since the little girl involved was the same age as my own youngest daughter.  A little boy, who with his parents is a very frequent customer, asked me about the incident the next day.   He asked me many questions about the incident, some of which he had witnessed, including why someone would do that, would leave a child by themselves in a store.

My discussion with him and eventual answer  brought a coworker to the verge of tears, and helped me as well.  Here is the gist of the answer I gave him:

“Sadly, not everyone is a nice person.  Some people do bad things, and we have no control over that.   We can’t change how other people act, we can only control how we act.  So what we can do is try to be good people, be nice people, and when we see someone in trouble, we can help them.”


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Ode to a bookstore

I had a customer tell me she loved me.  I had a customer tell me that we had the best customer service she had ever seen.  I had a customer throw a temper tantrum because I wouldn’t sell her store supplies.  I had a customer yell “this is contributing to the pussification of our children!”  I’m not sure how to spell pussification.  Someone who believed that the earth had stopped spinning.  A senior who had decided to dive back into the world after her husband’s death, starting with taking every free class she could find.  Attempted fraud and adults sitting on tiny, tiny furniture.  Dancing in the aisles and impromptu singalongs.  Shouting, laughter.  Food.  Lots, and lots, and lots of caffeine.

Oh bookstore, I love you.


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Filed under Books, General Awesomeness, Retail

One Of The World’s Most Beautiful Bookstores is Closing

It’s the final curtain for the iconic Chapters bookstore in Toronto, often in the top ten lists of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.

There was a lot of controversy when Chapters bought the old Runnymede theatre, but instead of bulldozing it they renovated it, restoring the building to its former glory and creating a shopping experience beyond belief. I published a blog post a long time ago, wishing I could work there, since a supposedly haunted bookstore in an old theatre sounds straight out of a Nancy Drew novel.

The reason it’s closing, however, makes me pretty damned angry.  I refer you to this article by Lisa Rainford, Torstar News:

“It’s a great store that’s served the neighbourhood incredibly well,” said Drew McGowen, vice-president of real estate and development at Chapters Indigo. “We’re at the end of our lease and the landlord can get far, far more money than we are able to pay.”

Since its opening in November 1999, Toronto’s commercial and housing real estate market has experienced “such a boom,” McGowen said. Chapters must vacate the premises by March 31, 2014, however, McGowen could not confirm when the store would be closed to the public. As for its employees, they have been notified and all will be relocated to other stores, he said.

“I want to offer our greatest, greatest thank you for your loyalty,” McGowen said, speaking to Chapters’ customers. “We hope you’ll stay with us as our customer even though we’re moving out of that immediate market. We hope you’ll still shop with us.”

McGowen called the store “an icon.” Its architecture and heritage “goes hand-and-hand with a bookstore.”

“The neighbourhood is so fantastic. It’s a store that has little to no parking, but people walk to it all the time. They’re so loyal,” he said.

He said he suspects the store won’t close quietly. Not if local resident and frequent Chapters customer Gwen O’Connell, who has lived in the Bloor West Village for 27 years, has her way.

“It’s really sad for the community,” said O’Connell, who knows some of the local Chapters employees. “It’s a historical building and (Chapters) maintained its dignity and history. It’ll be extremely sad to see it go.”

People from all walks of life rely on Chapters as a community hub, O’Connell said.

“It’s an integral part of our neighbourhood,” she said, recalling a recent visit by acclaimed local boxer George Chuvalo, who attracted as many as 200 people to the store for a signing of his new book, ‘Chuvalo: A Fighter’s Life: The Story Of Boxing’s Last Gladiator.’

Parkdale-High Park Councillor Sarah Doucette had just been informed of the news. If Chapters does indeed vacate the property, the councillor said she would hope that any new tenant would maintain the interior of the former theatre. Its exterior is protected by a heritage designation, she said.

According to rumblings in the neighbourhood, O’Connell said she’s heard a large-scale pharmacy is looking to relocated to the building.

In 1999, Chapters redeveloped the old theatre, the “Runny” as it was affectionately called, into a bookstore while keeping the cinema’s atmospheric interior intact. Built in June, 1927, the vaudeville theatre – designed to transport patrons to exotic places – was the first of its kind in Toronto. Designed by Alfred Chapman, it was known for its music and stage shows and could seat as many as 1,400 people. The ceiling was painted to depict a blue sky with puffy clouds; its complex lighting system projected a starry night and airplanes.

The atmospheric-style theatre is one of only three left in Canada.

So, there you have it.  It’s being closed because of the property owner’s greed.  Visit while you can, because the interior does not have to be left intact by the new tenant.  I honestly can’t imagine how a pharmacy would manage to do the beautiful space justice.

As a side note, don’t forget to submit your questions for my interview with Roberta Rich! The most interesting ones will be used.  You can post to my blog, contact me via my Twitter account @Bibliophiliacs , or the Bibliophiliacs facebook page.


Filed under Books, Bookstore, In The News, Retail

Top 10 Most Read Books In the World

The 2nd one surprised me, and then… hmm, okay.  What do you guys think?  Accurate?  Surprising?  How many have you read?

Happy reading!


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Filed under Books, Retail

It’s called Hard Times for a reason.

Sometimes, telling a customer not to purchase a book is an important part of my job.

Yesterday, a woman who volunteers at the local hospital was looking for something “light and cheerful” to read during her breaks.  I grabbed the copy of Dickens’ Hard Times from her hand, and put it as far away from her as I could reach without just making a run for it.

The  father picking up a copy of Fifty Shades at his fifteen-year-old’s request practically got slapped with it.

The woman who wanted a Harlequin-type romance and picked up Anna Karenina.

The mom who wanted something for a nine year old who was a “very advanced reader” and picked up A Clockwork Orange.  And The Fight Club.

The mom who was buying The Game for her son.   Ew.


Happy (not) reading.



Filed under Books, Bookstore, Retail