Pages Books in Toronto to close

Toronto's Pages bookstore, one of my favorites in the world, is set to close after a rent-hike left it unable to remain in its 30 year Queen Street location. I worked at Bakka, the science fiction bookstore, when it was just a few doors down from Pages (which has a phenomenal periodicals and underground, design, art, and culture book sections, as well as some of the friendliest, most knowledgeable staff you could hope to meet), and I remember when we lost our lease after a rent hike. The store eventually landed back on Queen Street after being acquired by a new owner, but it was touch and go for years. Apparently Pages can't find anywhere else to go and will be shuttering. I'm gutted -- Pages was always one of the highlights of my trips back home to Toronto.

"Landlords seem to be recession-proof at this point," he says. "They're just keeping their prices up."

Currently, Glassman figures he's getting a good deal at $235,000 a year. But landlord Yoram Birenzweig, VP of Pinedale Properties, says the true market value at 256 Queen West is $100 a square foot - which my calculator tells me is $400,000 a year.

That's not what he's demanding Glassman pay, but even if they split the difference, it's all too much for Pages.

Glassman keeps stressing his relationship with Birenzweig is genial and that he's not getting screwed over.

"It's life," he says. "He appreciates what we're doing, [but] for him, if you can, you should make more money," he says.

The article goes on to mention that another great Toronto bookstore, This Ain't the Rosedale Library, rescued itself by moving to Kensington Market from Church Street. I've been to the new location and it's fantastic -- a great store for a great neighborhood. Visitors to Toronto, take note.

Pages bookstore going down

(Image: Matthew Kim)


  1. A bunch of places have closed down due to high rents (including a really good bookshop) in my local town, its pretty rubbish. Landlords may be recession proof, but tenants aren’t.

  2. A lot of the places I love have been shut out on Queen St. lately. Savage Garden is gone. Fun Haus is gone. If the Silver Snail ever closes, I will never go to Toronto ever again.

  3. Awwwwwww – Nooooooo!

    I LOVE pages. I walk out of there with armloads every frickin’ time I’m foolish enough to poke my nose in there. Are they Closing closing or Moving closing? Damndamndamndamndamn.

    And then the evil feral part of my alleged brain down in the base of my skull sez: “Ooo – maybe there’ll be a sale!”

    I am so depressed now.


  4. I hope they find a new location.
    Marc Glassman and his staff have always been a class act. Very giving to the Toronto Arts Community. I wish Marc the best of luck in whatever he chooses to do and hope that he lands on his feet.

  5. Multinational corporations have no use for free speech and independent book stores. They also have no love of libraries.

    Three cheers for Fascism!!!

  6. Son of a bitch, that sucks. PAGES was one of the last great ones. I think I can count the remaining independents in Canada on one hand.

  7. This is very sad. “The Stem” restaurant has closed its doors as well. The only remnants of Queen street past are a couple bars and the Silver Snail.

  8. @Robbo They’d been looking for a new location for a while, but each neighbourhood downtown has it’s own indie bookstore and Pages didn’t want to compete. So apparently they’ve decided to pack it in entirely.

    I really love this store and I’m sad to see it go. It was one the only reasons to head to a neighbourhood that’s increasingly just an outdoor mall. Although admittedly the Facebook group and store signs calling their closing day “the death of books” is turning me off.

  9. I’ve never understood the landlord’s idea of how this math works. What I typically see here in Manhattan is that a landlord estimates that the location is worth X dollars. The existing tenant is paying less than X (let’s call it Y dollars).

    The landlord then raises the rent to X. The tenant moves/goes out of business. Other existing tenants who would love to use said space also cannot afford X. The building then stays empty for at least one, possibly several years, thereby generating an income guaranteed to be less than Y, let alone X and a neighborhood loses one of the things that made it what it was. Meanwhile the landlord continues to pay taxes on a non-income generating property. Nice job! Everyone wins!

    When nobody moves in and all the old staff needs to move out of their apartments since their jobs just went bust, maybe they can take the old store and make it into affordable housing.

  10. It’s not that surprising. As great an indy store as Pages is, it’s not cheap. It has become, like many bookstores – independent or not – a place to browse what you’re going to buy at Amazon for far less.

    I know many people who shopped there regularly before the era of online bookstores, and tried to stay loyal, but couldn’t justify the added cost.

    They’re This is not a Reading Series will continue though, so there’s that at least.

    1. a place to browse what you’re going to buy at Amazon for far less.

      If I see it at a bookstore, I buy it at the bookstore. I consider common decency to be worth a couple of extra bucks.

  11. Can I just say one thing?

    Pages was one of the most unfriendly, snobby and rude booksellers I have ever had the displeasure of shopping at. I’m surprised they didn’t go under earlier.

    Sorry, and maybe this is sour grapes, but I have on 3 separate occasions been treated to barely concealed sarcasm by the /owner/ when simply asking after a book or magazine.

    When I tell this story to other Torontonians I get a surprising number of “oh, yeah, me too” responses. Take this all with a grain of salt, but I am neither surprised nor sad at this news. Other than it is sad that another private seller has gone under. The fact is that all the big stores are better than Pages at day-to-day book selling.

  12. “The article goes on to mention that another great Toronto bookstore, This Ain’t the Rosedale Library, rescued itself by moving to Kensington Market from Church Street. I’ve been to the new location and it’s fantastic — a great store for a great neighborhood.”

    I used to haunt the place at its old location and have never seen the new one since I hardly ever go to Kensington. If you’re going to move a bookstore, the new location had better be accessible to its old customers.

  13. @ # 11

    That is the case sometimes, but you should look up the store’s location and surrounding community before making such assumptions. I can guarantee they will find a tenant to pay rent X, and the store space is already located directly under a not-so-expensive housing building.

    Pages is on the aforementioned mall strip of Queen West, between University and Bathurst, and not the trendy, smaller local-grown section the stretches out further. The block it is on has H&M, Billabong, 9west etc etc. It’s the high-rent, high-profile end of the street, there will be no problems.

    @ # 13:

    Really? Kensington is not at all far away from Church. Quick streetcar ride or bike over (use the safe bike lane on College the whole way there). Drop in on a Sunday and grab yourself a tasty snack and see everything else that you’re missing out in the Market.

  14. :'( I love this place! I was just in Toronto last weekend, and was about to go in, decided to wait until the next day when I could show the people I was with, then we never got time to go there…


  15. This really sucks, but considering the shitty chain stores and tourist trap restaurants that line that stretch of Queen now, it shouldn’t be too surprising. The landlord sees his neighbors raking it in and wants his piece of the pie, never mind that places like Pages were what made Queen St. attractive in the first place. In ten years, Queen will look like Yonge St. does now.

    Look out Parkdale…you’re next!

  16. “It’s not that surprising. As great an indy store as Pages is, it’s not cheap. It has become, like many bookstores – independent or not – a place to browse what you’re going to buy at Amazon for far less.”

    — I’ve never been to Pages (nor Toronto), but I’m only too familiar with the above-mentioned condition. There’s a great indie bookstore in metro Detroit called Book Beat, where I browse for stuff I can buy for less than half the price online. I feel bad about doing it, but that’s just the way it is these days.

    I was thinking about taking a trip to Toronto, but judging from the rapidly diminishing attractions I wonder if I should even bother.

  17. Holy Crap!! I need to buy a building in Toronto. We’re having trouble getting 100% full at $17.50/sf/year. (Same rate for the retail space! Of course, the retail space is full..)

  18. They should move to Bloor and OSSINGTON!!!!!

    If it’s not too late… There’s an “Insta-loan/ pay day cheque” that is going out of business. Having them there would be Amaze-oing!.

  19. Oh that sucks – when I played the Toronto Buskerfest a couple of years ago I came out of pages with a shitload of great books to take home.


  20. I’m still mourning the loss of Britnell’s (Yonge above Bloor). It’s a damn Starbucks now.

    Is Starbucks taking over Pages’ space? Is it?

    IS IT?

  21. Not to mention a bibliophile’s naked need to possess the book in question RIGHT NOW, Antinous. I’m shocked that anyone could wait to order online after thumbing those creamy pages, running eyes over the luscious type, inhaling the sweet papery scents: not to consummate via purchasing would be a kind of coitus interruptus!

  22. sucks to see another indie book store close, but the folks at pages were super rude and snobby and I never felt welcomed. So o’well that’s the breaks

  23. A lot of the places I love have been shut out on Queen St. lately. Savage Garden is gone. Fun Haus is gone. If the Silver Snail ever closes, I will never go to Toronto ever again.

    To #3: Funhaus is being taken over by the Shoppers Drug Mart downstairs. Savage Garden is being run by different people and is now called Nocturne with DJ Lazarus former owner of Funhaus holding his EBM Party there on occasion. Club Z and Neutral have goth friendly nights going on. DJ Pale of Savage is still around and will be spinning this coming Saturday. There is still stuff to come into TO for, just not all is in one convenient place on Queen W. anymore.

  24. I often wonder why some business renters don’t buy the places they’re renting. Like CBGB’s.

    No doubt sometimes they can’t (landlord won’t sell, now that the tenant has made the place famous).

    But bookstores can *could* find properties nearby that are for sale. (My favorite had a home in an old firestation for a while. WHY didn’t you BUY it, Mel?)

  25. No, no, NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Pages is the best library EVER!

    I’m from Montreal, and I’ve only been to Toronto a couple of times, but I’ve never seen any library like Pages. It was literally everything you will not find at Chapters. I wish we had something like that over here.

    Pages can’t close!

  26. Man, the whole reason a store on QSW is worth that much in the first place is *because* of the cool, independent stores that made it what it was. I was pretty sad last time I was in Toronto and a lot of cool stuff was gone. Where are the good places to visit nowadays?

  27. Oh, that SUCKS. I’m a big fan of that place. I found some real gems the last time I was there. (Their $5 bin yielded me TWO excellent reads.) And I love the decor.

    Just such a cool, cool bookstore. I always try to hit it up when I’m in TO.

    I wish there was something we could do. :(

  28. The reason landlords (at the high wealth scale) do this is that often they are getting away with tax breaks that should be or often are illegal. They get to at the very least “Write off” un-rented property from taxes, often they get ‘small business subsidies’. So they can afford to have multimillion dollar spaces open for decades, waiting or perhaps deliberately NOT waiting, for large “-Mart” chains. Also they raise rents that way, helping with property tax fraud and keeping small businesses from becoming big enough to challenge them. The “Capitalists” love to praise the “Free Market” but only when it helps them, they really want welfare worse than the worst racial/classist stereotype.

  29. As “dead tree” books become obsolete, this becomes inevitable!
    It’s now just a question of when, but “dead tree” books are a thing of the past!

  30. @37, certainly books are destined to become a different type of artefact in the future, but this is a far cry from a “thing of the past.”

    There are historical precedents for this sort of thing.

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