Down to the last few pages

I dropped into Pages on the way home from visiting some old friends tonight. I’d known for a little while now that they’re closing on Monday, but I didn’t realize until I came through the door that it would be the last time I’d ever shop there. The shelves are mostly bare, and there are sales tags and closure notices everywhere. It feels very much like the end of an era.

I’m sure that sounds like an overblown thing to say about a shop – but if any shop deserve it, Pages does. It’s probably safe to say that anyone in Toronto who’s interested in reading something different has been down to Pages at some point or another. It’s not Toronto’s only independent bookstore, but it is and always has been one of the finest. Its history is a testament to what Queen Street West used to be, and its closure is a symptom of what it’s become.

Kate and I went to see Underworld a couple of weeks ago. The day after the show, I dropped by their website to see if they’d happened to post a set list. They hadn’t, but I was touched by what frontman Karl Hyde had posted instead: “Very sad to see Pages Books is closing, what a great book shop it is.” When I quoted Hyde on Twitter, I got shocked responses from friends at home and abroad who hadn’t yet heard the bad news.

It’s not as if people in Toronto won’t be able to find cool books anymore; indeed, the number of options that book buyers have these days was no doubt an obstacle that Pages had to work to overcome. But it’s a very discouraging example of how things can change, and it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a shortage of them these days.

Hell, the first thing I heard when I walked into the pub where I’m writing this post was a terrible nu-metal version of “Careless Whisper,” and I’m not even going to bother to look up who did it, because it’s probably some really shitty group like 3OH!3 and I don’t want them to benefit from even the pathetic amount of publicity that this website could give them. Also, I went out to Sneaky Dee’s last night and it was full of kids. What’s going on, man?

At any rate, you’ve got four more days in which you can get down to Pages. Do yourself a favour and make the trip.

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