Used Bookstores in Toronto Retain Their Magical Charm

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At a time when the market is driven by people who are constantly exchanging old things for newer ones, old books manage to retain their charm. For me, and I believe I am not the only one, used books are like antiques. Often, people looking for certain titles find precious collections at old book shops and Toronto is no exception. 

Old bookstores, apart from offering cost-effective options for customers, are also the place for finding rare collections of print troves. Today I bring you 4 amazing bookstores, where you can forget the outside world and get lost behind piles of thousands of books, and immerse yourself into infinite words. 

Re Reading4


Re: Reading is located on 548 Danforth Ave, in the heart of the Danforth, which has received great community support since opening in April 2009. Christopher Sheedy owns and runs the store, with a small staff of only 3. Originally from Brockville Ontario, Christopher started buying used books when he first came to the city, as it was the only way he could afford books. Christopher would dream of one day owning his own used book store, a dream which after several years became a reality, after his retirement. One of the most interesting thing you can find in the shop is a map on which Christopher has cleverly linked his own prints for sale to the geographical location of where he took them. 

Re Reading1
Re Reading

Re:Reading tries to maintain a 'general' theme when it comes to book selection, buying used books, that are in excellent condition. Christopher tells me that Mystery are his top sellers. Aside from books, Re:reading also has a selection of DVD's, Blue Rays, and rare collectable box sets. If you want to know their stock before visiting the store, check their online book store.  

Christopher Sheedy owner of Re Reading
Christopher Sheedy owner of Re Reading
Christophers photos linked to the geographical location of where he took them
Christopher's photos linked to the geographical location of where he took them
Sarah Re Reading
Sarah at Re:Reading
Re Reading2
The only thing you need to do is to choose

She Said Boom!

She Said Boom, owned by John, and managed by Mark located in the heart of Roncesvalle, with two locations in the city the other located on 372 College St, east of Bathurst, have been around for over 10 years. Their main focus is contemporary literature, but also carries great selection of Fiction, Eastern Philosophy, Religion, Poetry as well as Drama. Aside from books, She Said Boom! carries a great selection of new and used vinyl, everything from Rock n' Roll, to R&B.

She said boom4
She said boom4
She said boom1
Mark manages the store
She said boom3
A great selection of new and used vinyl!

The Monkey's Paw

In business since 2006, The Monkey's Paw owned and operated by Stephen Fowler, has a diverse stock 20th century printed matter. After moving to Toronto from San Francisco, Stephen decided to open up shop in the city, having prior experience in owning and running several book stores. The shop carries several genres of books, with a special emphasis on visual culture. They are known for their odd and unusual books. 
Stephen tells me:

I believe books are dead, their wont be books for much longer. I want to show books to the digital era. The web has made it possible for people to have such arcane interest, which during the print era, those types of books were hard to find. I try to keep those usually and odd books in circulation. 

The Monkeys Paw4
The Monkey's Paw

The Monkey's Paw is also home to the Biblio-Mat, the world's first randomizing vending machine dispensing randomly selected old books. It is indeed a device of its kind, allowing curious bibliophiles to sample the excitement and mystery of antiquarian-book hunting for the cost of a single $2 coin.

The Monkeys Paw1
The Biblio-Mat
The Monkeys Paw2
Stephen Fowler in his kingdom
The Monkeys Paw3


Pandemonium is a new and used Book, CD, DVD, and Vinyl shop located on 2920 Dundas St West, in Toronto's Junction neighbourhood owned by Neill Cunningham who is in business since 2000. Aside from books Pandemonium has over 10,000 new and used records. Pandemonium hosts a couple of live events, more info can be found on their Facebook page. 

Neill Cunningham
Put the record on and play your favourite song


Meet the Photographer

John Steven Fernandez Photographer

John Steven Fernandez (born 1990)

This Toronto based photography student, currently studying at Seneca College of Applied Arts, was born and raised in Toronto from Chilean-born parents. Growing up, John would often visit Chile, and would document every moment of his trips, which had a major impact on the style of photography he enjoys most today. John’s main disciplines of interest are street photography, photojournalism, news, and event photography. John’s greatest passion in life is to travel, experiencing other cultures and meeting new people. John’s dream is to one day travel the world documenting his experiences and communicating his emotions to the world through his lens.


2 Responses

December 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm
Lisa Simkins says:

I just love old bookstores! We found one in Waynesboro, PA the other week, just an old storefront on the old main street with a guy behind a desk piled with books and an old cash register. The maze of aisles were narrow and crammed with stuff and you had to search for the category labels on the shelves. This area, being close to the Civil war history had a ton of books on war and guns, plus an eclectic selection of everything else. We ended up walking out with about 4 books apiece.

December 9, 2013 at 3:18 pm
elli says:

It’s great when you can find gems like these! Thank you for sharing your experience.

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